In today’s economic climate, things are starting to look up. Even so, smart businesses are continuing to examine every step of their supply chain to find ways and places to reduce waste. In fact, reducing costs has become an essential element of any company’s overarching cost reduction program. After all, lean thinking can always strike a chord for your manufacturers and clients.

There are a number of procedures that can be used in order to reduce waste in a company’s supply chain, but here are our favorite suggestions.

1. Real-time Information
Instant information directs our actions and decision-making in a way that has completely changed the way we live. Arguably, our lives are a lot easier and more simplified than ever before because of it. Do you remember the last time you went to the library for some information? What about the last time you asked Google something? We’ll bet the latter was far more recent.

This is all the more discernible amongst supply chains. Not long ago, companies were left in the dark when it came to how effective their supply chain was. A monthly or yearly account audit was standard. But you can now take advantage of the fact that you have instant access to information, revealing data-rich insight.

Identify negative trends that can affect your bottom line and find warning signs of those being sparked in order to predict them the next time around before any damage is done. This information can help you alter urgencies in the face of real-time events, notify customers of delays, and swiftly escalate or slow down production in order to meet your demand.

2. Go Back to the Basics: Design
It may be time to go back to your foundation and reexamine the design of your product or products. Identify where the use of raw materials can be reduced or where expensive materials can be replaced. Be sure to also look at packaging options.

When looking at each raw material, it isn’t only about cost. Check if there is actual waste of each raw material being used, recycled, reused, or redesigned. Waste can be an ok thing if it has the potential to be reused or recycled. But be sure to also examine costs in recycling before making any drastic decisions.

3. What You Do With the Waste
Another way in which we are lucky in today’s age is that technology has made it so that we can reuse waste or discarded products in new, different, and inventive ways. What doesn’t get used doesn’t have to find another use in its original form or shape. Recycling technology allows us to reuse material in ways that will inevitably help with your business’ waste issues.

One way of using that waste is making sure the original material actually get used the way it is supposed to be. Do a little quality control. Of course, it is a process built in to all manufacturing processes but is usually focused on the final product rather than the building process. Use quality control to manage your manufacturing process to have a higher quantity of products that pass the quality inspection at the very end, not to mention make the process of quality control a lot more quick and efficient, decrease time wastage as well.

4) Talk to the Right People
The end goal of any company, not just its supply chain process, is to supply your customers with what they want when they want it by using as little money as possible. Use manufacturing concepts and programs that can be designed either by you or come as pre-designed software to launch and manage the waste in your supply chain process, and where exactly it is happening.

At the same time, some of the most robust ways in which to identify waste can be old school. Talk to the employees that are on the ground working with your processes day-in and day-out. Have these employees map the process from beginning to end in a project management tool that visualizes each task. Ask them what techniques they are using and if they align with what you are looking for. Ask them about their own suggestions for improving product design, resource management, quality improvement, and the aforementioned scrap metal usage. Upper-level management may know a deficiency or delivery issue as a one-time problem when it may be a daily recurring issue on the shop floor.