Process improvement in the Solid Waste Industry

Reports from all industries regularly prove the value of streamlining manufacturing processes. Can these methods be implemented to increase efficiency and reduce costs in the waste industry?


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Take DMAIC, a cornerstone of Six Sigma( a set of techniques and tools for process improvement). DMAIC, short for „Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control aims at streamlining operations, increasing efficiency, and reducing costs.

Consultant Neal Bolton, specialized in landfill operations and management, writes in a recent article: „Repetitive tasks, such as picking up trashcans on a residential collection route, loading and unloading, compacting or hand-picking recyclables, can be analyzed. We’ve been doing it for years and yet are constantly learning new ways to analyze the same old day-to-day tasks.“

Every system has a bottleneck

Boltons's analysis while evaluating a large transfer station broke common processes down into seven individual steps: „Scale, Spotter, Unloading area, Sorting area (for recyclables), Staging area (for waste), Load-out area, Transport (to the landfill).“ Looking at the workflow using DMAIC, bottlenecks can be spotted and resolved. Bolton invites his readers to look at the whole process as if it were a pipeline. The pipe gets smaller or larger, thus defining the flow of daily waste tonnage and he concludes: „This type of model can pinpoint the constraints and help identify solutions for increasing production…or changing the system to work around the constraint.“

If you take in account the bottlenecks – one or more can be found in in every facility – a thorough analysis of your enterprise will help you to focus on successfully improving each individual process, eventually making day-to-day business more efficient, giving you higher profitability in the long run.


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