Five Ways to Reduce Rework This Quarter

Imagine a world where rework is minimal and incorporated into your daily production plan.

No production interruptions. No missed deliveries. Margins right on target. Serenity on the shop floor.

Perfect, right?

But perhaps not exactly what’s happening in your world. If not, then read on for five ways to begin reducing work you can implement immediately. (Not sure? Read our blog on how to quantify the symptoms and costs of your rework issues. Spoiler alert: You might be surprised.)


Rework Reduction Building Blocks

Reducing the causes of rework and reaching an optimal balance is usually not an immediate transformation. It takes effort.

But you can quickly make some manual changes that will get you on the right path.

Each operation is different, but here are strategies I’ve seen work in just-in-time manufacturing environments:

Stop the interruptions

Plan for rework. Build in time each day to perform your rework tasks.

How much time? It depends, in part, based on labor and machinery constraints and which tactic you select:

  • Running one shift a day? Dedicate the first hour to rework from items rejected in production during the previous shift and returned by customers.
  • Running multiple shifts? Dedicate the last hour of each shift to completing production rejects and customer returns so rework does not get pushed to the next shift.
  • If machinery is not a constraint, dedicate resources to tackle all rework throughout the day.

Reduce time spent on rework

Grouping rework tasks together. You’ll gain further efficiencies doing fewer contact switching. This is more effective in an assembly line than for individual builders.

Data Analysis

Collect rework data. Record a rework code for each rework item. Standardize the reasons, when possible. Identify the top two or three reasons for rework. Calculate rework cost of those items over the last month. Discover why it’s happening and create a plan to prevent further occurrences.

Plan to increase quality

Determine how to reduce rework for less than the cost of the rework.

  • I’ve seen the simple act of recording rework reduces rework. It’s the old adage: If you record it, it will improve. If staff see you are monitoring the rework, they will work harder to not create it.
  • Implement or increase frequency of preventive machine maintenance tools. Do you wait too long to replace or clean machinery components trying to avoid planned machinery downtime? Now you know the financial impact based on your rework data analysis.
  • Train more. Are jobs well documented but you’re still seeing errors from newer employees? Perhaps they don’t understand how to perform their tasks correctly.
  • Better work instructions. Confusion creates errors. Are changes from the standard difficult to identify?



Many good plans fail because they are not adapted on the floor. With continued data collection, you can monitor the impact of your plan to determine how much return on investment (ROI) you achieved.

Correct the causes

Ultimately, you want to correct the causes, not just patch symptoms. That starts with gathering data. You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. 

The benefits of decreased rework? Shorter lead times (I’ve seen improvements in days). Customers receive a better product faster. An increase in revenue and profit margins because the cost of manufacturing has gone down.

Lots of wins!

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