What are the Six Big Losses?

In the world of manufacturing there are several guarantees, unfortunately some are more welcome than others. The Six Big Losses are an unwelcome guest in manufacturing plants everywhere. They are the waste that robs you of productivity, opportunity, time, and money, without notice. The Six Big losses make no attempt to hide their whereabouts while providing you with hours of frustration and headache.

To combat the Six Big Losses, you have to know the Six Big Losses. Knowing what to look for is half the battle when trying to eliminate waste in any form, but especially with the Six Big Losses. Exposing them early can help negate their ability to impact your process and allow you to reduce or eliminate them all together.

The Six Big Losses

six big lossesBreakdowns

Breakdowns result in down time loss which generally is the result of tooling failures, unplanned maintenance, general breakdowns, and equipment failure. They can happen without notice and can result in a lengthy and/or expensive loss for the company, depending on the breakdown. Machines are meant to be producing output, while down, your organization lacks the ability to perform at peak performance. Meanwhile idle hands must sit and wait until their machine is up and running again.

Setup and Adjustments

This also falls under the loss category of downtime, but typically shorter than a breakdown. Examples of setup and adjustment time lost is changeover, material shortage, operator shortage, major adjustments, and warm-up time. Organizations have implemented setup time reduction programs to reduce the impact of the set and adjustment loss, but without acknowledging them, the result could lead to substantial time spent in downtime. A popular method among Lean practitioners to reduce setup times is the Single Minute Exchange of Die or SMED. 

Small Stops

In general, small stops are anything that takes less than five minutes to get back to full operation and do not require any maintenance personnel. Rather than label small stops as downtime, they fall under the speed loss category of waste. Examples of small stops are obstructed product flow, component jams, misfeeds, blocked sensor, delivery blocked, and cleaning or a quick inspection. These can be very difficult to keep track of because of the short amount of time it takes to fix them. However, in order to help eliminate them all together, workers must be conscious of any small stop in production and record them for review. Otherwise, they will continue to happen and slow your process down.

Reduced Speed

Anytime there is a difference in speed between actual operating speed and the equipment’s designed speed, you’re operating at a reduced speed. This gap is often overlooked as the norm, but its impact on your organization can be significant over time. Your goal should always be to operate at maximum capacity. If there’s a gap, then work towards eliminating it and find out what it will take to close the gap through root cause analysis. Any gap left unattended or underestimated is waste and while it may seem small at first, it can snowball into an avalanche without notice.

Startup Rejects

Startup rejects fall under a quality lost waste. This occurs during warm-up, startup or the early production stages of the process and could be the result of an improper setup or warm-up period. Startup rejects often lead to scrap, rework, in-process damage, in-process expiration, and incorrect assembly.

Production Rejects

These are different from startup rejects because of the time they occur and their root causes. The resulting waste is the same (quality loss), but production rejects happen during the steady-state production rather than startup or a warm-up period. The better you’re able to track rejects during a shift, the more information you will have to pinpoint root causes, and possibly discover patterns that will help you eliminate them all together.

To gain complete control over the Six Big Losses will take a culture that prides itself on continuous improvement and a path towards perfection. It takes awareness and the ability to seek out a loss when it presents itself. You need employees on the front lines who can acknowledge the smallest details and turn them into an opportunity for improvement.

No one said the path to perfection was easy, but it’s not impossible.

Image of Kaizen Guide

Additional Resources