What should you do when you are being faced with a growing demand but no increase in resources? The answer is to go LEAN. LEAN can be defined as the philosophy that believes customers are the determining factor of what is classified as value and what is classified as waste within a laboratory. With an emphasis on reducing the amount of time, materials, inventory and personnel injuries it takes to complete a job, LEAN has become a popular approach for producing quality products and services with less.


The first step of LEAN is determining what is value and what is waste. After this is determined, waste might be categorized into Type 1 waste or Type 2 waste.

Type 1 waste can be defined as activities that are considered “non-value” in a customer’s eyes but are necessary to get the job done. For example, personnel filling out a timesheet is considered not valuable to the customer, but it is essential for completing the job properly.

Type 2 waste can be defined as activities that are considered “non-value” in a customer’s eyes and are not necessary to get the job done.

To successfully go LEAN, a lab needs to be able to identify the Type 1 and Type 2 wastes and completely eliminate Type 2 waste. Because Type 2 waste can take on a handful of forms, known as the 8 wastes of LEAN, a mnemonic is used, “DOWNTIME.” This mnemonic helps laboratories easily remember the 8 wastes of LEAN so that they can eliminate them efficiently.


Defects can be classified as anything that could cause rework. For example, errors made during set up for calibration or incorrect information on a calibration certificate are both scenarios that would lead to rework.


A good example of overproduction is the calibrating of instruments that are not being used within the field. Say for example your laboratory keeps calibrating an older instrument that is no longer being used because a newer instrument replaced it. Instead of removing it from the system, which should be done, recalibration of the older instrument is continuing, therefore, causing an over production scenario.


Waiting on instructions for proper instrument calibration or waiting on correct repair parts leads to longer turn times. This type of waste is known for contributing to 80% of turn time and should be avoided.


If an employee is not actively engaged in their job or project, their talent is being untapped. This is considered a waste because the laboratory is not gaining the employees unique prospective.


A few good examples of waste under the transportation category include, unnecessarily moving instruments from one location to another, roundtrips to drop off a completed test report. This is wasting unnecessary time away from the calibration bench.


Having redundant filing and unused instruments is a huge waste of inventory space and time.


Data that is handwritten and then re-entered electronically is a step undertaken that didn’t directly add value to the task. Instead of wasting the time handwriting and then typing, it should only have to be input electronically.


One example of extra processing waste is when more data is taken than necessary for a particular instrument calibration.

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