Working Hard or Working Smart?

by Ken Dorsey
Industrial Engineer, Logile, Inc.

How many times have you heard or used the phrase “there just aren’t enough hours in the day?” Well if you are like me, it’s virtually every day. In business and in life, we are forced to make choices based upon having limited resources. The true cost of our decisions are the opportunities that we choose to forgo. More often than not, the choices we make come down to time.

Common sense would lead us to believe that being constantly busy makes for the best use of our time. In reality, there can be different paths to the same result requiring different effort. Some common reasons why people tend to work inefficiently are multitasking and lack of training, but most commonly we hear “that’s the way it’s always been done.” By questioning that rationale, your business can begin to highlight many costly processes.

Now that you have an idea of why inefficiencies tend to occur, what can you do about it? Standard industrial principles point us to the eight wastes. These wastes are:

  1. Defects
  2. Overproduction
  3. Waiting
  4. Non-value added processing
  5. Transportation
  6. Inventory
  7. Motion
  8. Unused employee creativity

The first seven were popularized by the Toyota Production System. By scrutinizing your company’s’ processes, you can quickly identify areas that can be modified or eliminated completely. One way to think about these opportunities is through the eyes of the customer. Begin asking questions such as “would the customer be willing to pay for this?”

The ability to identify non-value add processes will allow your business to put itself in the position to offer the same product at lower costs than competitors. The key to all of this is efficiency. Efficiency is defined as the ability to accomplish something with the least waste of time and effort. As we discussed before, production features such as excess inventory and excess motion can quickly translate into added expenses cutting away from your bottom line. Although measurement of these activities can prove to be an arduous task, our team of industrial engineers can help educate and train your team to optimize your complex processes.

Industrial engineering is a branch of engineering which deals with the optimization of complex processes or systems. Historically, these concepts have been applied to manufacturing environment, but as competition continues to grow in the retail sector these concepts become increasingly important.