7 Forms of Waste: Waiting

Waiting as a form of waste in greenhouse maintenance

Last week we discussed excess motion in the greenhouse and how it contributes to wasted time in maintenance. This week we focus on waiting as a form of waste, how it can be caused by a domino effect from other wastes of Lean, and how to eliminate it using a CMMS. Read about how our Technical Sales Representative, Brooke Turner, experienced an extreme case of waiting in this weeks’ case study: Scheduling Power Interruptions for Maintenance Activity

The Waste of Waiting: Causes and how to eliminate it

Waiting is one of the more common forms of waste in any maintenance organization. It occurs when staff cannot move to the next step of their maintenance process due to a shortage of some kind, and are either working very slowly or not at all. Other forms of waste, such as inventory and overproduction, can cause the waste of waiting. In other words, when production processes are unbalanced, it creates a domino effect of waste maintenance time and effort.

Common forms of waiting include: Waiting for parts that were not in stock to arrive, waiting for access to areas that are in production, and waiting for assistance to perform work that is unfamiliar. All three can be easily addressed with a CMMS by managing your parts inventory, coordinating schedules with production plans, and providing detailed work instructions for specific assets. Once this is all organized, waiting can be significantly reduced from maintenance activity.

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Case Study

Brooke Turner, current ALPS Sales Representative, previously performed electrical maintenance at a cannabis cultivation facility. Below, he recalls an instance where maintenance was poorly planned and, as a result, the crew was waiting to proceed with production for 4 hours:

“At previous facility we worked on, new programming needed to be uploaded. The only time to make this change without interrupting production was overnight. There was also a new substation that was being commissioned – This is the primary electrical feed to the building. To be able to do that work, the building had to be shut down and put into a blackout condition to allow for the electricians to have safe access. For that, the utility company needed to send a crew to the site to make a disconnection from the electrical grid – this had to be done at the beginning of the night and then the utility company had to return to reconnect in the morning when the facility was ready to come online.

The utility company provides the ability to be on call for whenever the work is ready to be completed after the maintenance activity is done so they can make the reconnection. The organizer of the activity chose to avoid the charge for the utility company to remain on site overnight. When the morning came and it was time to reconnect, they put in a call to the utility company to return. Unfortunately, the crew with the utility company that had been servicing us was called to the scene of a car accident where they needed to repair a hydro line. As a result, an entire facility was shut down without power for an extra 4 hours. We had maintenance crews on site with nothing to do other than try and keep things cool, and although the production staff’s shifts were put off a couple of hours in planning, that couple of hours was burned up and the entire production facility was standing outside in the parking lot.

In the end, in trying to save $3,000 it ended up costing the company $100,000 between having 30 contractors on site with nothing to do, lost production from not maintaining the schedule, and paying the production employees to stand around and wait.”

If this case teaches us anything, it is to make sure you have proper planning, the right materials, the right people on site to help, and a written procedure in place for regular maintenance activities, such as switch gear maintenance. By reviewing a process, where it succeeds and where it fails, a CMMS becomes a repository of best practices for maintenance activity.  Every future substation maintenance procedure will include having the correct teams onsite and available to avoid wasteful waiting.

A failed procedure; had been on site          With updated CMMS procedures

for 14 hours