Manufacturing Strategy for Window Fabricators 10 - Waste (Materials)




Materials content is a deciding factor in profitability, get it wrong and everything else falls over. You paid for all that material in the first place so why waste it?

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The business reasons

Materials waste is estimated to cost UK industry at least 15 billion/year - or some 4.5% of total turnover for the average UK company. This cost can be reduced by at least 1% through simple tools and techniques to easily raise profits.

Waste costs real money

Waste costs real money that is coming directly off the company profits. A reduction in waste costs by 1% can be the equivalent of increasing sales by over 14%. Internal effort spent on minimising waste can produce benefits equivalent to substantially increased sales. Most fabricators would regard a sales increase of 14% as excellent yet the same benefits can be achieved totally internally and with no risk at all. The only risk is that the competition does it and you do not.

The true costs are hidden

There is a large difference between the visible and the true cost of waste. Direct costs are visible and include waste collection and disposal costs (despite the fact that they are visible these costs are still largely ignored by most companies). The largest portion of the total waste costs are indirect and hidden and we have even developed special code words to make waste appear inevitable and part of the operations. The hidden wastes include:

These costs are not recorded or are not shown as separate items. They exist even for efficient companies and arise whether you like it or not. They are also significant whether you like it or not. After performing simple assessments, many companies have found that their waste costs were more than 20 times higher than their initial estimates!

Reducing materials waste gives:

Walk-around waste survey

The first step is to find some of the waste. Carry out a quick site waste survey to gain an overview of the processes and identify some no-cost or low-cost improvements to save money and reduce costs. After the survey is complete other methods can be used to find more hidden wastes. The survey should be carried out as soon as possible - waste is happening now and it is costing money now. Always look in the skips - it is an excellent starter for locating waste!

The process flow chart gives an overview of the wastes in the process.
Use a similar process flow-chart to record all the losses at each work station. The wastes may appear small but they are mostly avoidable and they add up to significant costs.
Get free help on starting to reduce waste from Envirowise (0800 585 794)


The general waste tracking model for window fabrication
Use the waste tracking model to put some numbers and costs on the wastes identified from the process flow chart. Putting numbers on the costs will focus the mind on reducing the costs.

Simple no-cost and low-cost money saving ideas

Eliminate, reduce, re-use, recycle

In waste minimisation the waste 'hierarchy' is an important tool: first attempt to eliminate the source of waste, then reduce the amount, then re-use any waste that does arise, then recycle the waste and only when these have been eliminated should waste be disposed of. During the site survey always look for opportunities to eliminate the waste rather than simply accept it.

The waste hierarchy
The simple hierarchy provides a ranking for the effectiveness of the actions to take. Eliminating the waste is the best action and reduces costs by the largest amount.

Materials management

  • Avoid product damage by improving storage and handling techniques.
  • Record materials content and track any variations.
  • Find out where and why scrap is being generated.



Utility management

Other measures

Free help

Get free help from the Government from Envirowise (0800 585 794).

  'Manufacturing Strategy' Series.

The 'Manufacturing Strategy' series is designed to give window fabricators a set of ideas for managing production. The series is being published in Fenestra on a monthly basis and published here after the Fenestra publication. The series is:

Part 1: The Essential Part 
Part 2: The Systems
Part 3: Just-in-Time

Part 4: Optimised Production Technology

Part 5: Work Cells

Part 6: Machines
Part 7: Machines (2)

Part 8: Scheduling

Part 9: Waste (Methods)

Part 10: Waste (Materials)

Part 11: Supply Chain

Part 12: Measurement
Part 13: Things to do NOW!
Part 14: The Cost of Quality

Part 15: The Hidden costs of inventory

Part 16: Environmental management

Part 17: Continuous Improvement

Last edited: 21/02/12

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