W is for Waste

David Trevelyan
December 23, 2020
Advent Alphabet Series

Most of us think of waste in terms of materials that are no longer required, and have no other purpose. In this day and age, waste is so much more. Across the suite of ISO standards waste crops up as a consideration not just in ISO14001. Waste can be a fascinating subject and can be a great place to start for audits.

If you peer in the proverbial skip, you come across some really interesting sights. When you follow the process back, you find waste in all kinds of areas. An example of where skip diving has made a cross ISO standard difference is in builders merchants. Finding lots of broken products in the skip, customers not getting their products (now broken), and engineers repeatedly being called back to fix FLTs (who were dropping the product), and H&S getting lots of Near Miss notifications. Following a good skip dive, and the subsequent questions and investigation several factors were identified throughout the business.

  1. The startling volume of waste was accepted as normal
  2. Customer complaints were not being captured (Where’s my product, and why’s it broken ½ hour later?)
  3. The FLT clamp trucks had the wrong grip material (too hard)

When these were investigated further, this then showed that:

  1. The company had no idea of what a normal amount of waste was (no proper monitoring)
  2. Customer complaints were only really considered if they involved financial loss
  3. When FLT clamp trucks were introduced, a proper technical specification wasn’t agreed
  4. H&S incidents didn’t take into account environmental/quality issues.

Although the audit finding didn’t stop there, it goes to show how important waste can be, and why a good skip dive, lots of questions and an enquiring auditor can find many ways to reduce waste.

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