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Identifying and Eliminating the 7 Wastes of Lean Manufacturing

Learn the 7 Wastes of Lean with UNEX

Lean manufacturing emphasizes waste elimination and continuous improvement to increase efficiency and reduce costs. One of the key concepts of lean manufacturing is the seven lean wastes, also known as the seven forms of muda. Waste, in lean manufacturing terms, is any activity that does not add value to the product, costs resources, and earns the business nothing. All seven wastes are ubiquitous in manufacturing operations, but understanding their causes and symptoms can help you more easily identify each. In this article, we'll describe the seven wastes, and explore how to identify and eliminate them in your facility. 


1. Overproduction

Overproduction is the largest source of waste in the manufacturing industry. You create waste when you produce more than you need at the time. This can result in products becoming scrap or ending up in landfills. Overproduction occurs when you make more products than you need before you need them. Overproducing goods can cause bottlenecks and increase costs by creating additional kinds of waste. Overproduction is more than just creating too many goods, however. Facilities often overproduce things like paperwork, reports, meetings, and packaging, all of which waste resources.

2. Waiting

Unanticipated delays are ubiquitous in manufacturing operations. For many, time spent waiting is the second most costly form of waste. Rhythm is essential in manufacturing to ensure tools, materials, labor, and information are all available when you need them. Any disruption in that rhythm can create costly and wasteful delays. Mechanical problems, ineffective communication, and supply chain issues are common sources of delay. 

3. Transportation

Transportation refers to not only moving goods from your facility to distribution centers, but also moving materials, equipment, and people within your facility. In both cases, creating the shortest, most efficient route saves time, money, and labor. Shipping routes as well as internal workflow design should be assessed for efficiency to keep the cost of all forms of transportation as low as possible.

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4. Overprocessing

Overprocessing occurs when you use more resources than needed to complete a task. This can result from a lack of standardization, inefficient automation, or incorrect assumptions about what is needed. Examples include adding valueless features, using unnecessarily expensive materials, or taking more steps than necessary to complete a task. While overprocessing often begins with the best intentions for quality, safety, and value, it’s important to safeguard against incurring superfluous costs in the production process.

5. Excess Inventory

Especially in the wake of supply chain disruptions that have marked recent years, it can be tempting to stock extra inventory “just in case.” However, this undermines efforts toward warehouse space optimization and results in unnecessarily high storage costs. It also requires you to expend more resources tracking, managing, and maintaining this excess inventory. A review of inventory management and supply chain will help eliminate waste in this area and allow you to further streamline your operation.

6. Motion

Motion waste arises from unnecessary movement of materials, machines, and personnel. Examples of motion waste include workers moving from one area of the warehouse to another to locate materials, machines that are not ergonomically designed, and inefficient layouts that require workers to move farther than necessary. Each of these scenarios can increase costs and reduce efficiency.

Optimizing your workplace layout can help reduce motion waste by minimizing the distance workers must move to complete production tasks. You can also implement lean work processes such as reducing the number of times workers need to move between workstations, using ergonomically designed machines, and organizing items to make them easier to locate. Automation can also reduce the of time and energy spent on tasks that require physical movement and manual labor.

7. Defects

Defects occur when a product fails to meet customer requirements or its design standard. Defects can happen in any part of the production process, from raw materials to the finished product. The costs associated with defects can include lost time, money, and materials as well as dissatisfied customers, which can damage a company’s reputation and reduce customer loyalty.

To reduce the impact of defects, manufacturers and warehouse managers must take proactive measures to identify and address them. This can include setting up a quality assurance system, conducting regular testing and inspections, and implementing corrective and preventive measures. Quality control is a continuous process that requires ongoing effort. Regular audits and reviews can ensure standards are being met and any defects are being addressed in a timely manner.

Overproduction - Volume or Value? [The 7 Wastes of Lean Manufacturing]

Eliminate Waste in Your Facilities with UNEX Solutions

By understanding and eliminating the seven wastes, you can create a more streamlined and efficient production process across your operation. If you’re ready to eliminate waste and streamline your facilities, UNEX can help! Learn more about UNEX solutions for lean manufacturing.

Take proactive measures to improve your productivity and achieve greater success in your facility by contacting us today.

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