All posts by Hannah Rosenbrock

An Interview With Think Perform Course Participant Kevin Maun

What course did you do?

Certificate 3 in CSP and Certificate 4 in Process Manufacturing

What was the best thing that you learned?

5 Why’s. I now always ask ‘why’ until we get to the root cause. We used to just work around a problem but now we take the time to investigate the problem so we can understand the cause and put in place actions to stop it happening again.

How did you apply the Think Perform teachings to your work?

We were planning to change the factory layout but we held off until we started the training. I am glad we did as after learning the 8 wastes and in particular motion waste, I realised how much waste was still in the proposed layout.

What were the highlights of the program?

Steve (our trainer) recommended that we set the teams based on end to end processes. This worked really well as the operators learned from the end user the impact of poor quality on the next stages. We had great discussions on expectations and standards. The quality has picked up as a result.

What were the results and what did you achieve?

There has been an improvement in quality, reduced rework and improved workflow. We are now tracking product defects and in our toolbox process defects are down 70%.

Did you receive any feedback from your co-workers/manager about the changes?  

I haven’t heard any direct feedback at this stage which means they haven’t found any issues with what we are doing. You can see new behaviours in a number of operators.

Who would you recommend Think Perform to?

I believe the training is applicable to all businesses who want to improve their performance through engaging their workers.


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An Interview With Think Perform Facilitator Steve Farrugia

Hi Steve. Can you please give us an overview of your experience?

I am a CPA with over 20 years’ experience working in operational improvement. I work with businesses to deliver sustainable performance improvement through the engagement of its people. Working with my clients, I provide training, facilitation, coaching and team development. The last 4 years I have worked at Think Perform delivering training to blue collar and white collar employees across a number of businesses and industries, including:  advanced aerospace component manufacturing, pallet repair, large scale printing, roof tiling, window and door systems and fabrication and transport supplies.

What would be the one thing that you hope participants take away from their Think Perform course?

Our key objective is to leave our clients with sustainable continuous improvement programs. To achieve that, we hope that our participants, after completing the training, are not only confident in the Lean tools but they also have the mindset to want to contribute to the improvement of the business.

What are common problems that participants face when learning or applying Lean concepts and techniques? Do you have any advice to overcome this?

The tools can be foreign so that is why we spend time applying the tools in the workplace, working on business processes. The challenge can be that when they go to apply the tools at their workplace they may forget exactly how to apply the tools. We work to overcome this through providing on-the-floor coaching. We also provide display boards, for the key lean techniques that provide a summary of the tool and its key steps. It is important that these are displayed in their work areas and at the communication boards, so they can be referred to when needed.

What is your favourite Lean/Continuous Improvement tool/technique/concept?

My favourite is our waste module where we introduce to the teams the concepts of value-added, non value-added activities and introduce the 8 wastes.

This is generally the first time that they have thought about their job as a part of a process and they learn the impact of their work on the people further up the line. We usually find that they have never sat as a team and asked ‘how can we do this better’?

The learning for the group is enormous. They start to challenge what has just been accepted as normal practice. We look for quick wins that we can start on immediately to build momentum for the program. It is important at this point for management to get behind this and demonstrate their commitment to the program.

What is the best/most unique/most interesting way that you’ve seen clients apply Lean tools and techniques?

A client of ours has done an excellent job implementing 5S at their site. They operate over 3 shifts and each shift complained that the previous shift was leaving the work area in a mess. This was causing delays in start-up, as operators had to replenish stock, empty bins and wasting time looking for missing items. For the 5S training, we allocated each shift a specific work area and they were given the task of developing 5S standards and identifying and implementing ideas to improve workflow and reduce waste.

The teams really involved themselves in the project and worked together to develop a number of great initiatives:  purpose-built trolleys, cleaning stands, quality display boards, line marking, visual standards and start of shift checklists. The change in the place has been enormous. There has been a reduction in cleaning times, improved equipment up-time, improved productivity and an overall improvement in the look of the factory.

Any last tips/advice for readers of this email?

Most people have heard of the continuous improvement model PDCA, which stands for Plan, Do, Check and Act. We cover this in our training but we have been receiving requests for more information on the ‘Check’ stage of the model.

For the ‘Check’ stage, I apply what is referred to as an After Action Review (AAR). The AAR comes from the US army and is used by companies around the world as a way to assist learning and continuous improvement. I have developed a one page template that teams complete after completing the ‘Do’ stage of a CI project.

The process involves the Project Team Leader gathering their team together to address a series of questions about the project results.Typical questions are:

  • What was supposed to happen?
  • What did go well and why?
  • What did not go well and why?
  • What are the lessons learned?

Weaving a disciplined process for learning, through experience, into the project review promotes individual and team learning and produces action plans that are owned by the participants.

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Tesla: Manufacturing South Australia for the future

In July, Tesla and its owner Elon Musk announced that it is building the world’s largest lithium-ion battery in South Australia — an installation 60 per cent larger than any other large-scale battery energy storage system on the planet.

In partnership with the South Australian government and French renewables company Neoen, alongside the third stage of the Hornsdale Wind Farm, the PowerPack battery farm will top 100 megawatts of capacity and provide 129 megawatt-hours of energy generation to the region — load balancing the state’s renewable energy generation and allowing emergency back-up power if a shortfall in energy production is predicted.

According to Musk, the battery will keep the lights on in South Australia. This statement is an increasingly important one as it comes at a time where the state has struggled with reliable energy generation and recently suffered from a statewide blackout caused by a 50-year storm last September.

Tesla has detailed its planned development in a recent blog post: “Tesla Powerpack will charge using renewable energy from the Hornsdale Wind Farm and then deliver electricity during peak hours to help maintain the reliable operation of South Australia’s electrical infrastructure. The Tesla Powerpack system will further transform the state’s movement towards renewable energy and see an advancement of a resilient and modern grid.”

In terms of gains in efficiency, the power that this innovative piece of technology has to sustainably and consistently power an entire state is extraordinary. However, while the technology itself may be new and exciting, the processes that Musk and his team will use to deliver them will still need to employ tried and tested Continuous Improvement techniques in order to fulfil the promise of 100 days from contract signature to project completion.

Both Musk and Tesla have a lot riding on this promise. For one, if the project isn’t delivered it will be free for the South Australian government. Secondly, if successful, Tesla stands to cement its reputation as a provider of technologies that can deliver manufacturing into the future, both cheaper and more sustainably.

Tesla has previously claimed it is able to drive down the per kilowatt hour cost of its battery pack by more than 30 per cent by “using economies of scale, innovative manufacturing, reduction of waste, and the simple optimisation of locating most manufacturing process under one roof”.

Breaking this key statement down, it is a little easier to surmise how Tesla is able to make sure a brash promise of completion in 100 days; Musk is placing his confidence in the use of established Lean and Continuous Improvement principles.

When Tesla mentioned ‘economies of scale’ they are referring to when more units of a good or a service can be produced on a larger scale, with (on average) fewer input costs. By following this key principle of lean production, Tesla will be able to apply this time based management approach to its battery production, presumably by repurposing already existing technologies it owns and produces regularly to construct the new, mega-sized lithium-ion battery.

On the surface, the Tesla Way is to go fast and hope that genius and adrenaline can compensate for a perceived lack stability. But according to Musk, ‘innovative manufacturing’ techniques are essential to Tesla rising to the ongoing challenges and opportunities of production in the technological. While these innovative techniques include the practical side of manufacturing including the reduction of cost per unit, its also a reference to how Musk and Tesla approach manufacturing as an overall idea. They are creating an alternate business model – and an alternate business ecosystem – that allows more control over the entire process from ideation to creation. This includes optimising space and man power by locating the entire manufacturing process under one roof, using one set of principles employed and understood by the entire workforce of Tesla.

The reduction of waste is not only a pivotal ongoing lean principle for traditional manufacturing, it is an integral part of Tesla’s business model for future industries and innovations. The car company worked closely with StopWaste’s Use Reusables program to switch to reusable windshield racks, a project that eliminates about 100 tons of cardboard waste a year. Since the new racks hold numerous windshields and can be worked straight from the line, they have improved the overall efficiency of Tesla’s manufacturing process. The car company also has an excellent recycling and composting program and diverts 79% of their waste from the landfill.


To find out how Lean and Continuous Improvement can be applied to your business, call 1300 667 099.

Continuous Improvement and Digital

Continuous Improvement (C.I) requires thoughtful planning, implementation, follow-up study (checking), planned revisions and more follow-up study before implementation (acting) occurs.  C.I is a widely accepted and expected scientific approach to learning and applying value-adding knowledge in business processes.

However, as with many other best practices, these accepted processes are now being challenged and re-evaluated thanks to the existence of 2 key factors: the digital and the technological.

In an era when not being aware of digital progress can mean the difference between basic survival and growth for many organisations, not paying attention when planning and acting towards Continuous Improvement is short-sighted.

In light of the fact more people both internal and external to your business will be garnering information on your practices and future developments from the digital space, having updated processes for breaking down barriers to quality, productivity, safety and human performance need to be as agile as possible.

The idea of Continuous Improvement in the digital age doesn’t mean the core goal is different. Everybody still wants to get better all the time, but the path we take to get there needs to match the new goal posts we have to encounter along the way. What does it take to be good at digital from a Continuous Improvement perspective? There are a few key elements for all organisations to keep in mind, regardless of their industry, manufacturing background or assumed future trajectory.

  • Keep changes at a manageable rate to understand shifts and improvements:

The trap with the push towards everything becoming more digital is that it can seem that everything needs to be upheaved at once to achieve maximum improvement. However, just as changes to traditional processes need to be done systematically to uncover the root of the lag in performance, so too should it be with digital processes and changes. For example, if your website is in need of an upgrade, think about the job as many elements as opposed to one large whole. Changing the copy, imagery or basic user experience may all add up to a more improved platform, but the real cause of the existing problem can’t be understood if all of these are changed dramatically at once. The more discrete and isolated a change, the easier it is to measure against the rest of your systems and practices.

  • Embrace analytics and testing:

Digital advances are, by their nature unpredictable. A truly controlled environment is almost impossible to encounter as there are too many factors interacting at once. However, the more information you have and the more experience under different conditions you have encountered will help you to better predict the outcome. By embracing the analytical recording of performance of certain content, actions or changes alongside solid A/B testing, you will already have a clearer understanding of what parts of your strategy are working and what others can be phased out over time.

  • Apply a wide angle problem-solving lens to both opportunities and threats:

Digital performance is normally driven by two different systems and analytics: acquisition of traffic and content performance. These measures are continually focused on the movement of audiences, both existing and potential in direct response to your actions. As such, these two systems are inherently linked. Once you introduce other elements such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to the mix, the equation becomes an even more complex one to comprehend.

Organisations that work continuously to understand their audience, the nature of the traffic and the reasons behind the performance of it are one step ahead of the rest. By applying ‘outside of the box’ thinking to audience capture and retention, organisations can begin to better understand how to work towards improving their performance systematically, intelligently and not only reactively to the trends of the day, week or year.

Just as traditional Continuous Improvement needs to be consistent and informed, so too does any digital focus for improvement within your organisation. Take the Workplace Waste Analyser test to see where your organisation could enhance efficiency, competitiveness and profitability.

Australian Manufacturer Increases Competitiveness Through Lean Manufacturing

The viability of Australia’s manufacturing sector is going to depend on finding ways to increase productivity, improve international competitiveness and eliminate waste. Lean Manufacturing has become a way for Australian companies to remain competitive.

Manufacturing accounts for 6.8% of the economy and employs more than three times as many people as the mining sector. Government policy and media commentary has tended to focus on bailouts for large manufacturers, rather than reform initiatives aimed at improving operational efficiency.

One company driving change in this sector and producing positive results is Think Perform. Think Perform is part of the Thrive Alliance group of companies and a certified provider of Lean, Continuous Improvement and Operational Excellence training. Unlike most other RTOs, which simply deliver off-the-shelf training courses, Think Perform immerses itself within a business, identifies inefficiencies and then develops and implements a program to increase productivity.

For family-owned WA-based swimming pool manufacturer, Aquatic Leisure Technologies (ALT), Think Perform underpinned a wholesale transformation of its operations. ALT is one of Australia’s largest manufacturers of fiberglass pools and had been producing them in much the same way for the last forty years since the business started. With increasing competition from manufacturers in Asia and other countries, as well as concrete pool makers, ALT knew it needed to change and change quickly. ALT had even considered shifting manufacturing offshore to remain competitive, but as a family owned business it wanted to keep producing pools in Western Australia.

The company was familiar with so-called “Lean” management, which is perhaps best associated with Toyota’s production system. Lean management is about delivering quality goods and services at the best possible prices as quickly and efficiently as possible by eliminating waste, smoothing out production issues and empowering workers.

ALT built its new factory with Lean manufacturing principles in mind and partnered with Think Perform to drive change at every level of the business. When ALT came together with Think Perform it had already started on its Lean manufacturing journey with the launch of ‘The ALT Way – Business Excellence Initiative.’ ALT had already been exporting pools for more than 30 years, but the transformation program established the foundations for ALT for further expansion in overseas markets.

Importantly, reform at ALT would not have been possible without the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia (CCIWA) and the role it played in convincing State and Federal Governments of the need to continue supporting these types of industry transformation programs. With on-going Government support for initiatives aimed at driving operational efficiency, both CCIWA and ALT believe Australia’s manufacturing industry can prosper and once again be internationally competitive.

It has been unfortunate for the entire training industry, as well as the beneficiaries of these programs, that a few unscrupulous operators have tarnished the reputation of the sector.  However, in line with results being displayed from clients such as ALT, there are providers such as Think Perform who are delivering quality outcomes. Countries such as South Korea and Japan have demonstrated that even in a high labour cost environment, they can establish a competitive advantage in manufacturing through increased efficiency and productivity.

Click here to download a free Lean Management ebook or click here to contact Think Perform and discover how Lean Management and Continuous Improvement Training can be of benefit to your staff and business.

Lean Principles – Tools & Practices for Lean Thinking

When we talk about thinking Lean, we are not talking about a traditional rationalisation tactic, a traditional cost reduction program or a trendy business coaching fad based on temporarily popular principles. With Lean principles we are enacting a positive way of thinking and acting that allows profitable choices to be implemented across the entire organisation.

In this process of positive implementation and enacting, there are pivotal principles, tools and methodologies that Lean-thinking organisations are implementing to get the best results.

Focusing on Lean principles and tools will direct us towards a plethora of resources Lean thinking organisations currently use to improve their processes and eliminate waste.

While the accepted five-step thought process for guiding the implementation of Lean principles and practices is relatively easy to remember, achieving it is not always easy or straightforward

Benefits to following Lean Principles and methodologies

By following the Five Lean Principles in a continuous flow from one to five and back again, the result is the introduction and maintenance of a strong methodology based on an overriding organisational strategy to constantly and consistently deliver the best results to the customer. With a view to identify, redirect flow and revisit for further improvement, the Lean methodology is one that is never complete, and instead becomes a way of being for the organisation and all who work within it.

While having a solid concept of the Lean Principles and methodologies behind them of continuous improvement and respect for the customer is one thing, it is an entirely different matter to put these principles and methodologies into practice with reliable and comprehensive tools.

Lean Tools to Support Lean Principles

Of all the Lean Tools that are being implemented by Lean thinking organisations, there are some that stand out as being particularly helpful in directing the flow from each Lean Principle to the next.

Identifying customers and specifying value – Tool: Identify Waste

The first point of reference for the overriding Lean principles is to recognise the actions or process that adds value for the end customer, and what actions don’t. Identifying both the valuing adding action and the non-value adding actions that contribute to waste is the principle point moving forward with Lean thinking.

To effectively identity the value we are providing our Customers we can firstly identify the Waste and how we can reduce this waste to improve our value to the Customer, while also providing a safer workplace as many wastes are also hazards within our workplaces.

Once the wastes have been identified their solutions can be categorised into:

  • Just Do It’s – immediate fixes that take little more than time and a little planning
  • Low Cost Ideas – quick fixes which may need “petty cash” and some scheduled time away from the workplace, which could include overtime, which can be approved by a Team Leader or Supervisor
  • Projects – usually requiring a higher degree of investment along with management approval, sometimes as a capital expenditure and some significant timing and planning, potentially scheduling work to be done during a shutdown period

Map the Value Stream – Tool: Value Stream Mapping

In Lean, the Value Stream is the entire set of activities across the organisation involved in delivering a service or product. By identifying the end-to-end process that delivers the product or service to a customer, break down or stalls in this process can be identified and better rectified

This is the stage where we focus on what the end-to-end process that delivers the product or service to a customer is.

  • First we list all the process steps in order in a horizontal format
  • Review the steps, are they all necessary, can any be deleted, which steps are not adding value to the process or the customer
  • Then under each step what are the issues or factors that are potential or actual causes of problems, affecting that process step, use your waste analysis tools to assist in this process
  • Now we identify the actions we can take to prevent these issues from occurring
  • Review how our process steps interact with incoming and outgoing data, cycle times, WIP and FGI stock levels and importantly delivery cycles to the customer.

 Create Flow – Tool: 5S

Upon examining the Value Stream from beginning to end, some Lean thinkers may find that only a small percentage of efforts directly impact the end result that the customers interacts with. Eliminating the waste in this flow and instead replacing it with valuable actions or simplified processes is key with this Lean principle

At this point of the Principle flow, the Lean thinking organisation will be focused on reducing the slack hiding within the existing processes; this is where 5S comes in as a useful tool. The five steps of 5S are designed to identify where flow can be improved between processes and between people:

  1. Sort – Segregate the workplace into necessary and unnecessary contents, remove what can be removed
  2. Straighten – Arrange elements, tools and people together in their place that makes sense for communication and identification
  3. Shine – Make it clean, keep it clean and remove defects
  4. Standardise – Create visual control and guidelines to keep the workspace organised
  5. Sustain – Put training in place to ensure all team members follow the 5S standards

Click here to download the handy 5S Poster. 

Establish Pull – Tool: Kanban

Understanding the nature of the customer’s demand for the product or service is key to establishing a process that responds to this as opposed to works against it

This is the stage of the process when you need to define what material is required and when you want it available or delivered.  Too much product at the workplace has the potential to restrict access and introduce safety issues, too little product and you process in in danger of being stopped awaiting for materials.

To ensure your Pull system works, establish:

  1. How often do you need to replenish materials
  2. How much material needs to be stored on line to meet this time frame
  3. How is the material to be stored for safe and easy access
  4. How to ensure FIFO [first in, first out] is maintained
  5. What are the maximum and minimum quantities to store on line, and
  6. What is your replenishment trigger, e.g.:
    • Visual
    • Electronic
    • Kanban Card
    • Time-bound e.g. 2 hour deliveries

Pursue Perfection – Tool:  Gemba Walks

The pursuit of perfection begins and continues with the comprehension of pull and the directing flow toward the betterment of the overall customer experience. The more dedication and focused the pursuit is, the more layers of waste will be uncovered and converted into a smoother, more continuous flow.

Now you’ve reached this stage, you’ve addressed the big issues, you’ve made permanent change based on KPI data you have collected, now you need to spend more time at the process.  You cannot make an assessment on any process without being there and seeing what is happening, without understanding any frustrations that may be in the workplace.

Talk to the people, ask them how things are going, what are their issues and ideas, your people need to feel they are engaged and valued by you, and that they are a significant part of the improvement process.  Avoid the Yes/No response questions like “Is everything okay?”, use open questions such as “I noticed you were having problems with that part during assembly, what are the issues?” and “How can we make it easier for you?”

Ensure you have “Regular Meaningful Conversations about things that matter”, to help you identify the potential issues and concerns before they become costly repairs and fixes, or worse, customer or consumer complaints.

Visualise your problems on a board or a chart, and set plans in place to implement effective permanent solutions.

At the heart of these Lean principles and the tools that support them, there is always a primary focus on the customer experience and the improvement of this through the elimination of waste, the simplification of process and the implementation of a smooth flow of work toward the ongoing goal of continuous improvement.

Lean Manufacturing: For Customer Satisfaction and a Healthy Bottom Line

Lean Manufacturing techniques can be applied to small, medium and large businesses and have been proven to boost profitability and customer satisfaction.

Everything within the Lean manufacturing model is aimed towards maintaining focus on the two key metrics of profitability and customer satisfaction in order to remain relevant and competitive.

What exactly is ‘Lean’? We can look at the general accepted Lean manufacturing definition for some clarity on the philosophy and the process behind it:

Lean manufacturing or Lean production (often simply ‘Lean’) is a systematic method for the elimination of waste within a manufacturing system. Lean is centered on making obvious what adds value by reducing everything else.

Each facility and organisation will be different. However, adopting Lean manufacturing and working some effective Lean manufacturing courses company-wide into general operations will positively affect any given workforce with:

  • Improved profitability: Lean manufacturing makes it more possible for companies to save money of labour hours, resources and wasted stock
  • More efficient workforce: With a set of standard procedures, personnel can focus on what matters as opposed to activities that waste time such as looking for the right tool
  • Better service: In a more streamlined workspace, workers can direct their attention to their customers as opposed to fixing broken processes
  • Safer workplace: In a cleaner, safer work environment, workers are less at risk, more happy and therefore more productive

This division between what is waste and what is valuable is one of the first key points to get clear when we are talking about customer satisfaction and profitability. Based on the concept of Continuous Improvement, the process Lead thinking employs to simplify this segmentation process is one of constant searching for better ways to identify, analyse and resolve the issues around the existence of waste in the workplace.

Step 1 in Lean Manufacturing: Identifying Waste

What can be considered waste? In ‘Lean’, waste can take many forms and according to the philosophy of Continuous Improvement, waste always exists. To be truly Lean, the pursuit to reduce waste is a constant and ongoing one. While waste can appear in many forms, there are a few clearly defined types of waste that are considered to be the major issues in the way of achieving Lean manufacturing:

  1. Defects – Defects that result in rework or scrap can be a major cost to organisations
  2. Overproduction – Production that is made before it is needed or more products are made than required
  3. Waiting time – Time not used effectively is a waste. Idle time is often the result of poor planning or poor resource utilisation
  4. Not Utilising Employees – Not utilising people’s knowledge, skills and talent
  5. Transportation – Unnecessary transporting of products between processes adds no value to the product
  6. Inventory – Holding too much product or stock not being processed
  7. Motion – Unnecessary bending, stretching, walking and lifting by workers should be reduced
  8. Excess processing – Simple methods can replace lengthy detailed processes or operating procedures

Step 2 in Lean Manufacturing: Analyse and Sort

Once we are able to successfully identify where the source of the waste is, the next step is to better analyse and sort waste. While Lean is not so much about using a set of tools to implement large changes in one fell swoop, it is about fostering a continuous and sustained process of improvement across the entire organisation.

Keeping in the spirit of this ongoing process, a set of practices emerged initially from the key Japanese companies responsible for much Continuous Improvement and have begun working their way into much of the Lean manufacturing training appearing in more Western literature.

Lean Manufacturing 5S Philosophy

The five steps are based on five Japanese words and are focused on creating a safe, clean, and well-functioning workplace. A simplified explanation of the practice can be:

Sort: Remove unnecessary items form the work space. Attache removal tags to infrequently used items or items to be replaced.

Set: Customise the work area to improve overall efficiency. Keep important materials nearby and introduce visual organisation to assist a streamlined workflow and improved efficiency.

Shine: Keep the work area clean by finding sources of contamination and eliminating them.

Standardise: Assign tasks and create mutually agreed upon schedules so everyone knows their responsibilities and timetable.

Sustain: Ensure that 5S is a long-term, company-wide goal. Analyse results often, hold team mettings and train workers on the importance of Lean thinking.

Only one of several Lean tools, the Lean Manufacturing 5S practice as a whole is aimed at eliminating waste and instead creating value through facility and process organisation. No matter to what scale the Lean Manufacturing 5S practice is enforced, businesses both large and small can enjoy numerous benefits from adopting the methodology.

Step 3 in Lead Manufacturing: Resolve and Train

In terms of resolving the issue of waste, it is a key part of Lean to acknowledge that there is no end point to the process of reducing effort, time, space, cost and mistakes. In a true Lean transformative organisation, there will always be a need to return to the first stage and work through the entire process again.

However, a key part of sustainable Lean manufacturing lies in goal setting and training. For Lean to be its most effective, everyone needs to be involved in the process of identifying, analysing and sorting through waste issues.

This relates directly to the ‘Sustain’ step as part of the 5S philosophy; ensuring that Lean manufacturing training is a primary concern and goal company-wide is essential to maintaining the quality of work and the safety of the environment for all workers.

By identifying, analysing and reducing Waste in the workplace using Lean principles customer satisfaction will inevitably increase and do so profitably.


Can You Identify Waste in Your Business?

The most successful organisations in today’s competitive marketplace produce quality goods and services in a timely manner. They produce them for the least cost whilst creating the least amount of Waste. Manufacturers who have previously undertaken a Brisbane lean training course are now forward thinking organisations achieving consistent, sustainable  and profitable results. Lean Waste reduction, through identifying the 8 Wastes of lean, is one of the key initiatives that these Brisbane and Queensland organisations are using to improve their long term viability and profitability.

A high-quality product or service that meets the customers’ expectations is what all businesses aim to provide. To achieve this, businesses have to continually improve the way or the processes they use to make and deliver their products and services to their customers. They must do this for the same cost or for less cost than their competitors, and deliver them in line with customer requirements to remain competitive. Reducing all forms of Waste within production and other processes is the best way to achieve this.


Waste costs businesses and customer’s money. Competitive organisations systematically identify and remove Waste. To remove Waste, people must first understand what lean Waste principles are and where Waste exists. Waste identification and reduction is the core concept of Lean course in Brisbane. All lean tools are designed to either help people see Waste or help them reduce Waste.

An activity does not add value if the customer is not willing to pay for it, or to pay more money for it. Falling short of customer expectations is often caused by Waste. Going beyond their expectations can also create Waste. Often referred to as Non-Value Adding activities (NVA), Waste can be defined as any activity that the customer would be unwilling to pay for. Customers will not pay for quality they don’t need and they will not pay when the quality they require is not provided.

Removing Waste from processes is not only one of the best ways businesses can increase profits, it also improves safety. Reducing Waste can be viewed as pro-active hazard identification and elimination. Removing Waste always produces a safer workplace.


There are eight common forms of Waste. These can be easily remembered using the D O W N T I M E acronym.

D owntime
O verproduction
W aiting
N ot Utilising Employees
T ransport
I nventory
M otion
E xcessive Processing

Every person within a competitive organisation should be responsible for the identification and elimination of Waste. You will be using activity sheets to help you identify Waste within your own workplace. Remember, the most important step to eliminating Waste is learning how to recognise it.

You may find and want to eliminate some Wastes as soon as you identify them. Use the Low Cost/No Cost Ideas activity sheet to record Waste that is easily fixed. If these are simple and easy to fix – just fix them. Don’t Waste time when eliminating simple Waste.

Other Wastes may require further analysis to identify and eliminate the root cause. Do not make superficial changes if the root cause can be completely eliminated. Don’t automate or introduce changes that may only cover up the Waste.

First and foremost, learn to see the D O W N T I M E. As you complete a walk through your work area and a process mapping activity, your Facilitator will assist you to identify both simple and more complex types of Waste. Record these on your Waste Identification Sheet.


The Waste of Defects is one of the easiest Wastes to identify. Anything that makes a product or service less valuable to a customer or leads to rework, replacement, salvage or scrap can be considered a defect. If not addressed, this form of Waste can potentially lead to the loss of valued customers. Defects also create unnecessary costs through the time taken to replace or rework and inspect items a second time. For example, production runs sometimes have to be rescheduled in manufacturing businesses, which then impacts on other scheduled runs.


Overproduction occurs when a product is made or process is performed before it is required. Providing higher quality products or services than required is also considered Overproduction. Overproduction is a Waste because it includes:

• Causes delays in the flow of materials, products and information through the value chain
• Uses up unnecessary resources – raw materials, time, technology and human effort
• Increases the lead time
• Ties up money in unnecessary stock
• Uses storage space
• Leads to product being dumped or sold cheaply



Waiting is the easiest Waste to recognise. In all workplaces any time not used effectively is a Waste. The most common forms are Waiting for materials to arrive, Waiting for information to perform the task, and Waiting for the previous process to be completed. There are other forms of Waiting that can be just as costly. Idle time is created when anyone has to wait for information, approvals and decisions, and when teams have to wait for vacant positions to be filled.

Your organisation may have to pay for raw materials that wait to be processed and for people Waiting for machines, parts, information or other resources. The business can either charge more for what they make or be prepared to make a smaller profit. If customers have to wait for their product or service they may decide to choose another provider.

Once wait time has been identified, eliminating it is usually a straightforward process. Removing bottlenecks is a typical strategy used to reduce Waiting in processes. You may identify more than one bottleneck when you work with your team to undertake a process mapping activity in your work area.

Not Utilising Employees

Not utilising the knowledge and skills of employees is a major area of Waste. When people have greater skills and knowledge than their role requires, their potential contribution to the organisation is Wasted. Ways employees can be underutilised:

• They are not encouraged to identify problems and come up with ideas for improvement
• They are only using their core skill for a small percentage of their work day and wasting the rest of the day, Waiting, searching or walking
• They do not receive appropriate training to carry out the work they are employed to do
• They are not provided with the tools and resources they need to carry out their work efficiently and effectively.

When employees are not involved in improvement activities or problem solving, opportunities are lost. The best people to suggest and recommend changes and improvements to current systems and processes are actually the people doing the job.


Any time that materials, tools, work in progress or completed work are moved, Transportation occurs. While it is not possible to remove all Transportation from processes, it is possible to reduce the large amount of Transportation Waste that occurs in many organisations. Transportation is Wasted when:

• Materials and information are shifted many times – double handling
• Finished work is shifted multiple times
• Goods are Transported to a store before going to the customer
• Items are moved with unnecessary Transportation or in large batches

Transporting products between processes adds no value to the product. However, resources that cost money are used to move them. Movement not only contributes to Waiting time, it can also cause damage. Storage is costly and can sometimes cause quality to deteriorate. The need to Transport materials (and the associated costs of equipment and manpower) should be reduced wherever possible.


Inventory or stock is often identified as the most serious Waste as it hides and often creates other forms of Waste such as Defects, Overproduction, Transportation and Waiting. Stock that the company stores for any length of time can include:

• Raw materials
• Partly finished goods (WIP)
• Finished goods

Some accounting systems view Inventory as an asset, but it can also be seen as a liability if it has not been ordered or pre-sold. When components or parts are made a long time before they are needed, they have to be stored. When parts are made just before they are needed, the time they are in the Inventory is short, which normally reduces the need for Transportation.

As you complete the VSM activity, look for what excess Inventory is evident, and how it could be reduced.


Every time we are forced to move, stretch or go and search for a tool, part or information to do our job, we are wasting Motion. Motion Waste happens:

• When double handling occurs
• When information, tools and equipment are not stored at the point of use
• When products or materials are not stored at the point of use and in the correct quantities
• When you have to spend time searching for items or sorting through items for the correct one

Motion Waste can also cause Waiting if equipment needs to be adjusted or fixed or if products are being changed. It can also create considerable frustration if the correct information, part or tool cannot be found.

To reduce Motion Waste, review the amount of bending, stretching, walking and lifting that you and other team members are doing. An added advantage is that by avoiding unnecessary physical movement, employee health and safety is protected and time is not wasted.

Excessive Processing

In business environment, processing activities are typically viewed as value adding. However, this is not always the case. When you view your current processes from a Waste perspective, you may see that some steps are actually unnecessary or over-complicated. Some simple examples of over processing Waste are the use of excess packaging or creating both paper and electronic records to store the same information. Any steps that are unnecessary or over-complicated create Excessive Processing Waste. Excessive or unnecessary data entry or paperwork is another form of processing Waste. Excessive Processing Waste can include:

• Using excess energy and resources
• Adding unnecessary cost for no return on investment
• Creating yield losses and Waste materials
• Creating wear and tear on equipment
• Using employee time on tasks that do not add value

Creating a process map is one of the most useful tools that can be used to identify and eliminate over processing. When you and your team complete this activity, look for opportunities to consolidate, combine and streamline processes.

Empowering your employees with the required skills and tools to identify waste is a key component of Lean training.

Get in touch with us today to discuss your options.


Lean Training in Brisbane

A lean training course will focus on obtaining results and providing a process that will achieve the desired outcomes. Businesses across Queensland, including in and around Brisbane, are looking for effective ways to remain competitive. Many companies are feeling the pressure to deliver value to customers at affordable prices. Think Perform offers Lean training in Brisbane that can help in achieving this goal.

Upon course completion organisations will grow to understand how to increase customer value with minimal waste. To do so, there is a shift from optimising individual assets, technologies, and departments to using a process that optimises all simultaneously.

Lean Training In Brisbane

A lean training course for Brisbane and Queensland based organisations can vary to the rest of Australia based on geographic location and the environment in which the business operated. It is important, however, to focus on continuous improvement utilising a program that can be practically applied in your workplace.

To give you an overview of how a training course might look in your Queensland based organisation, we would first determine what exactly your organisation would like to achieve. In the initial stages, the training focuses on engaging with the leadership and culture of an organisation while allowing solutions to be created to achieve your unique desired outcomes. In fact, many companies choose to undergo the training and create their own title for the unique program they roll out across their organisation. What would yours say? Queensland Manufacturing Excellence?

What is Lean Training about?

Lean training involves the complete transformation of the way a business thinks and how the company is run. First and foremost, your organisation needs to determine how their customers define value. Only when this has been done can we determine which activities must be completed to deliver this value.

Three fundamental principles guide the lean process. First and foremost, customer problems must be identified and solved to allow the company to prosper. Each major value stream is then assessed to ensure it is capable, valuable, flexible, and adequate.

The flow of this process must be both efficient and productive to provide the desired results and a system must be established in order to meet the orders and needs of the client. Finally, this process must become an integral part of the workplace to ensure continuous improvement.

Finally, people within the organisation must be involved, with certain parties identified to handle the process and ensure it is ongoing. If even one principle is overlooked, the organisation won’t get the most from the process.

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Why choose Think Perform?

We are specialists in tailoring on site training specific to your businesses’ needs, regardless of geographic location. Whether you’re in Brisbane, Cairns or anywhere in Queensland or Australasia, we can help your business achieve better results.

Our approach has been tried and tested over the years. This approach focuses on helping businesses overcome any obstacles they are facing, making use of the strengths of the business together with the passion of the employees to produce the desired results.

By building on these two areas, businesses find they are able to make continuous improvements in the business, doing so by focusing on small changes that won’t detrimentally impact the practices and values of the company.

The approach used by Think Perform takes every employee in the organisation into consideration, as doing so allows value to be added at each level to ensure the long-term stability of changes.

Here at Think Perform we are known for producing exceptional results by placing personal development, individuals, and continuous improvement of the business at the core of the process, and our organisation brings more than 40 years of experience to each interaction.

Available Opportunities

The programs offered through the company are available nationally, and the team spends time in each client’s workplace, allowing employees to provide their input into the process.

This strong partnership and the customised change framework created for each client ensures a business can make use of the system for years to come.

Australia’s leading Lean trainers, Think Perform are currently offering Lean training in Brisbane. Contact us today and boost employee productivity and profitability sustainably.

Lean Training In Brisbane
Lean Training In Brisbane


How to properly define Continuous Improvement and its application in the workplace

How to properly define Continuous Improvement and its application in the workplace

Image of PDCA cycleIn today’s economic climate, many successful organisations are engaged in what is known as a Continuous Improvement process. This process is a philosophy which aims to improve an organisation’s productivity, profitability, competitiveness and sustainability by using a proven approach known as the Plan, Do, Check & Act (PDCA) cycle.

Consider a production process where every week there was a small but helpful change implemented to the procedure. For example, a new and improved tool might be introduced one week, a new part which replaces two parts the next week, a new layout with easier to reach tools the next – and so on. Each of these changes are small, but these small incremental changes over time would greatly enhance the production process.

What is a Continuous Improvement Cycle?

A continuous improvement cycle provides a foundation for the implementation of a number of Lean tools which aim to improve organisational processes, services and products. Put simply, a continuous improvement cycle is one of the most successful means by which an organisation can achieve its long-term goals through design, strategy and application.

What is a Continuous Improvement Plan?

Generally, a Continuous Improvement plan it follows the PDCA cycle. The cycle begins with a strategy or plan, which is then implemented. When a predetermined amount of time has passed, the process is reviewed and evaluated. Depending upon the outcome, the plan is tweaked and the PDCA cycle begins again.

For example, imagine a car parts company that is frequently ending up with a lot of waste. During the plan phase, the employees could use lean tools like the 5 Whys or a Fishbone diagram to determine why this is happening. From here, they can develop a plan to reduce waste.

In the do stage, the employees implement the plan, which may involve a 5S blitz [link to 5s infographic] on their work area to improve efficiency and reduce waste. After a pre-defined period of time they would review and evaluate the effectiveness of their actions.

During the check phase they can measure whether their changes are reducing waste across the pre-defined areas marked for improvement e.g. reduction of defects, excessive production or waiting.

The act phase encourages employees to take action and implement any learnings in other areas of the workplace and continue to identify areas for improvement.

How does the PDCA cycle influence long term results?

Using the PDCA cycle is like a type of perpetual loop. It moves from planning, to implementation, to evaluation, to revision, and then back to planning and on again. It is precise and methodical. One of its key benefits is that it does not allow for organisational stagnation. Factors such as perceived vulnerabilities, areas for improvement, employee participation, and client satisfaction are monitored, measured, and manipulated to facilitate improvement. Many organisations have noted greater levels of improvement when employees who will be impacted by the changes under consideration are included in the planning and evaluation stages of the process.

How is a Successful Continuous Improvement Implementation Assessed?

The success of many business initiatives are frequently determined by profits. They can also be measured by factors such as increased competitiveness, sustainability, quality, safety, production and retention. Factors like loss reduction, client satisfaction and identification of waste are analysed when determining goals for organisational change. By comparing these statistics to baseline measurements, an organisation’s improvements are able to be statistically measured.

It is clear from looking at the history of successful companies that long term approaches, such as continuous improvement, cannot be abandoned if future growth is the objective. Click here to download a handy Plan, Do, Check, Act printable poster. Print it out and place it where your employees can read, review and memorise the cycle.

If your organisation is looking to improve profitability, competitiveness and sustainability, spend 3-5 minutes taking the Workplace Waste Analysis and you will be provided with a customised report to help identify and reduce waste in your workplace. Click here to take the analysis.