The Hidden Waste Lurking in Your Operation

The 8th Waste in Lean Operations

If you have spent any amount of time in or around Lean Manufacturing, you no doubt have heard of the Seven Waste originating from the Toyota Production System (TPS).
For those not familiar with those waste, the list looks like this (the order changes depending on your source but for the sake of using the TIMWOOD acronym we will use the following sequence)
1. Transporting
2. Inventory
3. Motion
4. Waiting
5. Overproduction
6. Over / Excess Processing
7. Defects
An internet search will return numerous good reads on the above list so I will turn the focus to a lesser known but oft included 8th waste. The additional waste category may take on differing names such as Human Potential, Not-Utilizing Talent, Non-Utilized Talent, Skills, etc. Regardless of the name, the waste stream is real and left unresolved can lead to frustration and disengaged employees. Examples of this category of waste include employees asked to follow blindly without empowerment, mismatching employee skill sets to the designated role, disregarding personality types, or asking employees to complete work with little perceived value. It is this last idea that will be explored below in the form of data administration.

Hidden Waste

Data administration can easily hide in the chasm between the manufacturing line and the front office. The manufacturing line gets plenty of attention to its waste: scrap rate, 1st pass yield, rework, downtime, etc. In the operations leadership and management environment data administration waste sometimes goes unchecked, though certainly not unnoticed by those suffering the consequences of processes with built in repetitive data administration. While at times necessary, data administration can lead to excess hours of non-value-added work, and generally becomes an anchor holding down the continuous improvement process.

Let’s address this form of waste with a fictional example of production data tracking.


Manual Data Tracking

ACME Cycles is a contract manufacturer of bicycles branded for small market bicycle shops. Business has been strong, and the backlog is growing. Pressure is starting to mount as the spring sales season is coming. Any missed delivery targets will become lost sales opportunities. Samantha is the Plant Manager and wants to track the number of units produced per hour, defects/issues observed on the line, scrap, and work stoppage (downtime). Samantha has created a form to track each category of information and assigned John, the tandem cycle assembly line leader, to ensure the form is completed and turned in at the end of the shift for his line. Each of the assembly lines has a similar process. At the end of the shift, the line leaders are tasked with entering the information into a spreadsheet for the next 30 minutes (or 60 if there are higher than normal downtime and defect issues for the day), except for the unicycle line as they always seem to be doing their own thing. Once the data is entered, the line leader then spends another 30 minutes updating charts and creating a summary for review by the operations team at their stand up meeting the next morning. Great, we have a well-defined process, each person knows their role, and information is made available the next day for review and follow up. But wait, we are going through a lot of paper and the customer doesn’t really care to pay for that cost. What about John? Would the customer be more willing to pay for his time pushing paper and updating spreadsheets or making defect free bicycles?


Transitioning to Electronic Data Submission – Leads to Shifting, Not Solving

Samantha finds the information valuable but recognizes the opportunity to improve the process. She really needs John present at the line to keep the team on track. The pressure to deliver on time continues to mount so she would also like to have the information available for review at the midpoint of the shift as well as the end of the shift. The team decides to change the process and have the operators enter their information directly into a spreadsheet (to eliminate paper and the data entry by John). The team goes full speed ahead by putting PC’s on the line for operators to input their data and creates spreadsheet templates and shared folder storage system for each line to maintain their respective information. John doesn’t have time to update the spreadsheets at the midpoint of the shift and is now working overtime to keep pace with the busy season. Ernesto, Operation Team Lead, is now tasked with extracting information from each assembly line’s spreadsheet and merging it into a master spreadsheet across all assembly lines. John is feeling better because he is no longer spending 30-60 minutes per day administering spreadsheets and charts and is back on the line leading the team where he feels most fulfilled. Samantha likes the twice per day updates which allows the team to make corrections to the process sooner. What about Ernesto? We have only managed to shift the data administration from one role to another, but it still exists, and we have started down the path of spreadsheet chaos. And the customer? The bicycle will take them somewhere and give them enjoyment such that they will gladly trade their hard-earned money for the expertly assembled frame, wheels, and pedals. However, they can’t ride a spreadsheet and therefore still not interested in paying for the time spent on data administration and creating charts.


Avoid Burn Out – Finding the Right Tool for the Job

Thankfully, Samantha is an experienced operations leader with a lean background. She is engaged with her team and recognizes that Ernesto is now thrust into a situation where he is burning repetitive energy collecting and collating information for the rest of the team. Ernesto is staying at work extra hours each week in order to keep up with the original workload and the newly added data administration requirements that shifted his way when the team made the move to twice daily updates. Samantha and her team have benefitted from the information they have been collecting and analyzing, yet she doesn’t want her team to suffer the burnout and frustration associated with spreadsheet chaos and the waste in the data administration of the process.
Samantha does her research and finds the perfect solution for her team. She has found a web-based tool that allows her team to configure the forms to enhance their process. They can now capture all the input at the source and bypass the spreadsheet. The team has already defined their KPI’s so they build report templates that can be used by each assembly line individually or rolled up at the plant level. The reports are then dropped onto a dashboard to be used by the team during the daily stand up meetings. No longer is it necessary for John, Ernesto, Samantha, or any other member of the team to spend an hour or two per day working on data administration. The data collected at the assembly line flows into the dashboards in real time. John is feeling supported by his management team because not only has the new real time analytics tool made data entry even easier, but he now has a tool that can provide real time notifications to his support network when his line is experiencing issues. His team has red/yellow/green visual indicators that help them see when they are falling behind the schedule. The real time visibility leads to seeking assistance sooner and there are no more surprises at the end of the shift. Ernesto is relieved to remove the repetitive data administration tasks from his job description and is back to leaving work on time and assisting with his daughter’s soccer practices that he has been missing for the past two months. Samantha not only has a happy and engaged team, she now has real time status tracking of the operations and doesn’t need to wait for the twice daily updates to find out if they are gaining ground on the delivery backlog.

While the story above may be fiction, similar situations are being played out in manufacturing operations all over the world. There is a somewhat typically maturation process that companies go through starting with paper, then hybrid, then fully electronic. There are even some lean practitioners in the school of thought that tracking on paper/white boards forces a better level of engagement and brings awareness to the information being collected and that electronic tracking is not beneficial. [That topic of debate is worth its own article in the future]


Spaghetti Systems

As a company attempts to improve their process over a period of years, maybe decades, it is commonplace to end up with different solutions for each department. Quality has a tool for nonconformance and defect tracking and possibly another software solution for gage and calibration management. The continuous improvement leader has a tool for tracking events and projects. Production uses a different set of tools to manage productivity and efficiency. Don’t forget about maintenance, someone needs to keep all those lines running and with that team comes their own CMMS to track work orders and planned maintenance activity. Somewhere in all this software spaghetti mess is the big CRM meatball.

Scattered Information

With all these systems in place, the organization might be feeling good about having electronic tools to track their key processes within each department. However, it is then that they find themselves back to the data administration frustration, albeit one layer up (i.e. shifted) on the org chart, because the systems do not talk to each other. At this point, the managers are extracting information from each of their respective systems and putting them into the top-level management presentation formats for review.


Thrive Software Platform for Operations

You may be wondering, what if that same tool that Samantha engaged for operations productivity and efficiency tracking also contained all the tools needed by the quality, continuous improvement, safety, and maintenance departments? Imagine the benefits to the management team if a single dashboard could show the KPI from each department in real time. Consider the training benefits for employees that transfer from one department to another and no longer need to learn to use a new software tool, but rather just adapt current skills to a new set of departmental processes and procedures. If such a system existed, wouldn’t that mean that facility work request that I entered on my mobile phone while walking into work this morning, the customer complaint call our quality team took a few minutes ago, and the five units that just left the assembly line headed for the shipping dock are already on my dashboard? The answer is an emphatic Yes!
The above scenario may sound like more fiction, but this is where Lean Technologies turns this story into reality using the Thrive software platform.

If you would like to hear from Thrive users experiencing this new reality, check out the videos page.

or want to talk to someone on the Lean Technologies team about transforming your reality, drop us a note

By |2019-09-24T17:30:52+00:00September 24th, 2019|Manufacturing, Productivity Tools, Thoughts|0 Comments

Release Notes For September 2019

RELEASE NOTES FOR September 2019



  • Added the ability to create a copy of a notification. (9/6)
  • More granular security that take a user’s site into account when determining which notifications they can manage. (9/6)
  • SMS functionality has been improved. It is now possible to setup notification recipients based on data fields from a form. (9/13)


  • Ability to show “static” data labels for printing and visibility. (9/6)
  • Rearranged the Report Configuration Tools to emphasize more commonly used items. (9/6)
  • Added report descriptions to tool tip when hovering over the report listing. (9/6)
  • Added option to display only “My Reports” in the report listing. (9/6)
  • Added option to display the name of the report creator in the report listing. (9/6)
  • Disabled Reporting Tree drag and drop on mobile. (9/27)
  •  Added one touch expand/contract on Reporting Tree (9/27)


Project Management

  • Added support for non alphanumeric characters on master projects. (9/13)


  • Changing the visibility of the chart in the Save dialog was not working correctly. (9/6)
  • Fix for Dashboard Tree Report Names that were being shortened/truncated


  • Safety Data Sheets – Fixed issue where using advanced search might throw error on the page. (9/6)
  • Fixed issue where OSHA 300 log was not correctly handling the “All Other Illness” box (9/27)


  • Discussion mentions and people selections now filter on site. (9/6)
  • Calendar – Time Off items were not showing up on the calendar and were getting filtered out (9/27)
  • Issued caused by Chrome build 77 that prevented users from being to print Telerik (pdf) reports (9/27)
By |2019-09-27T19:04:10+00:00September 6th, 2019|Release History, Thrive Updates|0 Comments

Release Notes For August 2019




  • Improved report searching with autocomplete, including the ability to show and search by report ID (8/2)

Human Resources

  • Added ability to automatically add new employees to Curriculums by employee type or any new employee. (8/23)

Project Management

  • Master Project ID is now linkable in forms and reporting. (8/7)



  • Setting the sort order to Descending for data fields in Configuration Tools was not working (clicking the column header was sorting correctly) (8/2)


  • There was a sizing issue with the menu in the last update when you opened it multiple times. This has been resolved.  (8/2)
  • Attachment button styling has been improved.  (8/2)
  • Attachment button no longer available in CLOSED status (8/2)
  • Improved database performance for login of AD accounts (8/23)


  • Permissions have been aligned in relation to meter history, meter update, and form security. (8/7)


  • Correct linking to detail page for the requisition line item. (8/23)


By |2019-08-23T22:57:50+00:00August 2nd, 2019|Release History, Thrive Updates|0 Comments

Release Notes For July 2019




    • NEW THEME: Added a material theme to Thrive. You can change this by going to your settings. (7/19)


    • Added new standard reports for core modules. (7/12)
    • Dashboards load faster on mobile devices. (7/12)
    • Headers always show when scrolling down. (7/12)
    • Added friendly names for group fields when a friendly name is available. (7/26)


    • NCR Assignment notifications have been updated and can be managed in “Notifications”. (7/12)
    • Added ID field to A3 Log. (7/19)
    • Added discussions feature to A3 Log. (7/19)



    • Menu Improvements (7/12)
    • Calendar on mobile devices has been improved. (7/12)
    • Error would occur if dashboard window was too far down on a page. (7/19)
    • Excel export would fail if file name was too long. (7/19)


    • Issue with windows moving/jumping or re-locating. (7/26)


    • Improved error handling on reports to improve solving report issues. (7/12)
    • Windows on dashboards can now be easily moved or relocated. (6/28)


    • Calendar items display better on mobile. (7/19)
    • Printing from day or week view. (7/26)


    • Timed notifications have been improved. (7/12)


    • Task image deletion is limited to only deleting the images related to that task. (7/12)


    • Periodically, generating the gage calibration schedules would not complete. (7/26)
    • Check in multiple gages if one of the gages did not have a “Last Checked In” location. (7/26)

Project Management

    • Issue when opening task items on a project. (7/26)
By |2019-08-02T17:16:12+00:00July 12th, 2019|Release History, Thrive Updates|0 Comments





    • New Reporting enhancements (6/14)
    • We continue to focus on reporting, including making sure existing version 2 reports work in the new reporting module (6/14)
    • Added links to reporting, as well as notifications and form security, in grids through-out all of Thrive so that accessing reporting, as well as these other great features, continues to get easier and easier! (6/14)
    • Corrected issue where dashboard list broke if user had a dashboard they had created and shared with themselves. (6/21)
    • Print Chart Only option (6/28)
    • Choose/modify the color pallet colors for charts (6/28)


    • Assignments (CI Events, Projects, Master Tasks) modified the entry date upon completion. (6/28)
    • Prevent inadvertent deletion of images when the same image is referenced by a different task set, audit, or planned maintenance item. (6/28)
    • Make sure users can customize fields in Vendor Tab of Parts (6/28)
    • Scheduling meters had an error where the page wouldn’t load. This has been resolved (6/28)


By |2019-07-12T20:29:59+00:00June 14th, 2019|Release History, Thrive Updates|0 Comments

RELEASE NOTES FOR May 24, 2019 (3.0.2019.524)

Release Notes for May 24, 2019 (3.0.2019.524)



  • Ability to restrict sites for “Limited Visibility” reports for multi-site users.
  • Preference for compact or standard grid/data layout is stored per user.
  • Improved print visibility/readability for text when printing reports.
  • Updated workflow to assist users when creating reports from scratch with no templates.



  • Changing a group name, field name, or formula will now always take effect.
  • We reinstated drill down reports that were referenced by parent reports on a dashboard.

Project Management

  • Fixed an issue where sometimes the part cost totals were not rolling up to the project.


By |2019-05-24T16:31:21+00:00May 24th, 2019|Release History, Thrive Updates|0 Comments

RELEASE NOTES FOR May 17, 2019 (3.0.2019.517)

Release Notes for May 17, 2019 (3.0.2019.517)



  • Calendar – Fixed bug where user filtering on the calendar was not being applied.
  • Calendar – User filtering now pulls in employees that the current user has site access to rather than showing every user.
  • Activities -Fixed the error when HTTP 403 was occurring in the activities tree due to a null database value.

Project Management

  • Project Detail – Saving a project will now be faster.
  • Tasks – Affects all Tasks (Planned Maintenance / Audits) that were marked as “Generate one project per location” but did not have any records on the location/equipment tab were not generating on schedule. This is now fixed and any task records currently meeting this criteria will begin to generate again based on the recurrence schedule settings.
By |2019-05-24T16:30:26+00:00May 17th, 2019|Release History, Thrive Updates, Uncategorized|0 Comments

RELEASE NOTES FOR May 10, 2019 (3.0.2019.510)

Release Notes for May 10, 2019 (3.0.2019.510)



  • Part Details – Corrected an issue affecting the visibility of the Standard Production Rate, Rate Type, and Standard Setup fields


  • Customer Links – corrected an issue where Customer Number links could redirect to an incorrect customer when the same Customer Name existed in more than one Thrive Site

Form Security

  • Module Tabs – Corrected an issue affecting the scrolling of the module tabs at the top of the page


The Thrive reporting system received a major upgrade on this release.

A new reporting tool was previously released in a Beta version that was accessible by some users in parallel to the retro reporting tools. The retro reporting tools are being retired with this release and existing reports will be migrated to Thrive V3 Reporting system. All previous links will be redirected to the equivalent V3 report. The new reporting system will offer a significant change in the may that report groups (folders) and security are handled. The starting point with this release will migrate existing reports into folders that match the current report Category (the category historically aligned with the Thrive Module). Report security will also migrate to the new folder structure. After the migration, users with proper security may create new folders for organizing and sharing reports.

The dashboard tool is following a similar migration plan. The new dashboard system will be pre-populated with reports based on the content of the old dashboards created by each user. Due to the increased flexibility of organizing and sizing the items on the new dashboard, users may find it necessary to adjust their new dashboard layouts during their first visit.

Please check Thrive online documentation or contact Lean Tech ( if further information is needed.

Reporting – The list of improvements and features is numerous so be sure to explore your system after reading this to find even more awesome tools

  • Folders – organize reports in a tree view folder system, includes drag and drop
  • Security – establish report or folder level security based on username or security roles (includes ability to have multiple owners so the same report can be managed by more than one person)
  • Graphics – updated graph aesthetics with numerous themes (colors and styles)
  • Goals – added color coded goal bands to charts
  • Field Names – The new reporting provides more consistency of field names and display values with the rest of the Thrive forms throughout the application
  • Multi-axis – charts can now utilize more than one axis to allow information with different y-axis ranges to be viewed on the same chart
  • Report Links – An “Open Reports” link has been added throughout the application on the grid (list) view tool bar. Use the sandwich icon (three bars) on the grid tool bar (not the main menu but the little one just above the data).  The link will filter the report list to the reports with information from similar data sources as the originating page.


  • Dashboard Sharing – added ability to share an entire dashboard (no more sharing a single report to someone else’s dashboard, now you create a dashboard that others can see, your changes are immediately available for others to view)
  • Dashboard Layout – the reports may be any size (drag the corner/edge) – previously only three fixed size
  • Dashboard Management – you can add reports to dashboards from the report editor and save dialogue screen. Additionally, the report tree view allows for drag and drop to the dashboard list
By |2019-05-13T18:46:11+00:00May 13th, 2019|Release History, Thrive Updates|0 Comments

RELEASE NOTES FOR APRIL, 18 2019 (3.0.2019.418)

Release Notes for April, 18 2019 (3.0.2019.418)


Master Projects

  • Updated Master Projects to include all checklist features such as real time updating, collapse/expand, and status bar. (Functions the same as the Project Detail pages)


  • Project Request approval can now be controlled globally or at the Project Type level. The global request approval setting in on the Company > Sites page and the Project Type setting is on the Project Management > Project Types page


  • Added Estimate Types list that can be managed by Thrive Site


Task / Audit Templates / Preventative Maintenance

  • Checklist templates were not fully working for non-admin users
By |2019-04-18T20:18:30+00:00April 18th, 2019|Release History, Thrive Updates|0 Comments