A shrinking gap between profits and costs is a telltale sign of waste in a process. Even the most efficiency-minded operator is probably running a wasteful operation. How can this be?
The trouble is that most waste is inconspicuous. It is created in bursts of activity, in small amounts, and quickly discarded or ignored. Even operators and managers concerned about waste tend only to “see” the obvious kinds of waste: stacks of printed materials from a make ready, bins full of product from a defective run, or other noticeable by-products. “Invisible waste” passes under the watchful eyes of managers and operators, disregarded as not being “a big deal”. But, just as a series of small leaks can drain a reservoir (or burst a dam), a buildup of inconspicuous waste can quietly erode one’s bottom line.
This “invisible waste” is difficult to measure, but not impossible.