Material waste reduction

Materials often are the largest cost component of any manufacturing business. Waste reduction is at the very core of every operational leaders’ list of key measures.

Applied Acumen has a deep understanding of waste reduction and yield improvement, and a track record of incredible success in reducing material costs in a variety of industries, and in particular in the food industry.

We’d be delighted to share our successes with you – no doubt we can help you set realistic benchmarks for what you can expect to achieve. Contact us here.


Our information is not very good – can you help?

Yes. Applied Acumen has encountered businesses at every stage of development, from those who do not record anything at all, and have no systems to speak of, to those who might be deemed ‘World Class’ household brands with very sophisticated tracking of materials.

Whatever your level of information, our approach ensures that you get in control of your material yields and costs.

  • Simple tracking of inputs and outputs can be quickly developed to include granular process by process information
  • From inbound goods in, we can set benchmark yield targets (including seasonal or origin variation) to ensure proper reconciliation to financial costing.
  • Line by line, product by product, yield data can be captured using client or our own shop floor data capture system which can monitor yield, giveaway, losses and so on.
  • New, powerful but extremely cost effective ‘Big Data’ cloud based solutions can provide insights to direct the actions of staff in day to day cost reduction, feeding information to the CI team, or simply giving live and summary yield performance by product, line and shift.
  • Measure and link to effluent, waste stream measurement, transfer note records and disposals to bring the whole management and reduction of waste in an end to end factory solution.

We get big swings in variances that we cannot explain?

This is more common than most people think.

Of course, the most common cause is stock count error, and it is this to which most people turn their immediate attention.

However, whilst implementing robust stock management is important, this is not the only cause of such swings, and it helps that Applied Acumen has the experience to bring to this problem. Examples of other avenues to explore include

      • Product mix
      • Product standards
      • Reporting cut-off timing (variation between production and finance and IT etc.
      • Leakage
      • Untracked disposals and transfers
      • System calculation algorithms (being incorrect)

Whatever the issue (or combination of issues), we can help. Call for a diagnosis.

Do you look at standards?


Companies have different ways of costing products financially, and often the financial standards will be different to those in operations.

In any event, we do review the standards, not least to understand the assumptions that have been incorporated within them. This allows us to benchmark both those assumptions, and the performance against those assumptions in practice.

If you wish to challenge your assumptions against our benchmarks, we can do this for you at no cost. Please call for further details.

We do lots of short runs – can you help?


Short runs is often where the assumptions made on standard costing falls down. There are two specific ways that we can help.

Firstly, we can work with you on ways to reduce the actual waste that occurs – whatever the run length happens to be. This includes every single variation to standard, such as waste generated in changeover, transfer losses, start up losses, giveaway or underweight losses, other quality losses, piping losses, clean down losses and so on.

Secondly, we can help to reduce the changeovers through more efficient planning, quality and life management. Unlike typical contemporary spreadsheet-based planning solutions, our modular planning and scheduling suite is more robust, and can plug in to any existing IT system you have.

We recognise that growth and sales are hard to come by. The answer is not to try to make operations easier by stripping out the difficult stuff, or ‘chopping off the tail’ – that’s just lazy. The answer is to get better at complexity! If you’d like a hand with that, give us a call.

Can you help us develop the right culture?


This is the right kind of question to ask, because it recognises the true task at hand. Reducing waste is both a technical and a tactical challenge.

Most people will focus upon the technical challenge, that of fixing the process, the machinery, the product etc. This is indeed an important aspect of waste reduction, but the real prize for leaders is to instil in the business a true benchmark for material performance, and drive the right culture.

For some this is interpreted as heralding “The 7 (or 8) Wastes”, sticking posters up, and talking about it a lot, for example highlighting how last week everyone conspired to throw out waste to the value of 5 cars and a 3 bedroom house. Typically this runs concurrent to not actually doing anything differently.

We help our clients take a more considered, constructive, sustainable and successful route, beginning with a deeper understanding of staff capability, attitude, motivation and aspirations. Our solutions then are built upon ensuring messages, behaviour, activity and training is coordinated and effective, and designed with the target culture properly defined and understood by all.

To hear more, please get in touch.

Contact us for more information today on  +44 (0) 20 3877 0618