Also known as the Eight Wastes and the Eight Deadly Wastes and the eight forms of waste.
Variants include the Seven Wastes.
In a Lean culture, waste is anything that doesn’t add value from the customer’s perspective. It includes activities that consume resources, add cost to the product or service but contribute zero value to the customer and therefore should be eliminated. Waste Analysis is one of the core principles of Lean thinking that involves identifying, quantifying, eliminating and preventing waste. It is also one of the easiest ways an organization can improve its operations.
Many Lean concepts and tools focus on continually identifying and eliminating waste. In fact, one of the main objectives of Lean is to remove all forms of waste from the value stream. Much of the focus in Lean and Kaizen is on the identification and the removal of waste, and this waste may exist in the value stream, process or facility. For most companies, it is safe to stay focused on the elimination of waste in the early years of the Lean journey.
Waste analysis is applicable in manufacturing, service and office environments. Waste takes many forms and can be found at any time and in any place. There are many classifications of waste. One of the most basic and widely used models across many industries is the Eight Wastes. Categorizing waste into these eight forms makes them easier to identify and helps identify priorities for action. We will discuss in the following sections the eight types of waste.
Unnecessary transportation is the unnecessary movement of products, materials, supplies or information from one place to another. While a product is being transported, it is not being worked on and no value is being added to it. Moving things costs money, causes production and delivery delays, and may include the risk of loss or damage. Many companies now require their suppliers to be close in order to eliminate transportation costs.
- Having the raw material storage area and the loading area at opposite ends.
- Storing office supplies far away from the office area.
- Moving documents for approval or seeking authorization.
- Moving patients from department to department.
- Find ways to reduce the distance between work areas.
- Relocate items to be closer to where the work is performed.
- Try to transport in bulk and in both directions.
Unnecessary movement (or wasted motion) refers to the movement performed by people that is not required and will not add value to the product or service. Not only it consumes time and uses up energy, but it may also increase health and safety issues and can affect the reliability of operations. Unnecessary movement is normally the result of a poor workplace layout design or poor ergonomic design.
- Moving too much or travelling farther than necessary to accomplish a task.
- Having to walk back and forth to get tools during maintenance.
- Having to bend or twist because of poor ergonomic design.
- Placing printers and photocopiers far away from offices.
- Evaluate the flow and layout to identify chances to streamline the process.
- Relocate the required tools at the point of use.
- Improve workplace ergonomics.
Waiting refers to the idle time that occurs when there are unnecessary delays within the process. It occurs when a product is not in transport or being processed, or when a person is waiting for a work or service to get completed, and that costs time and money. Any time a person or a product is waiting, there is no value being added, lead times are increased, and wasted time is transferred to the customer through increased costs.
- Waiting for the maintenance department to repair a breakdown.
- Waiting for the changeover to be completed.
- Waiting for a slow machine to operate.
- Waiting for a preceding operator to complete his/her work.
- A customer waiting for a service.
- Waiting for a meeting to start.
- Experiencing poor computer system performance.
- Observe what keeps people waiting.
- Measure waiting time and make it visible.
- Allocate more resources at the bottleneck areas to increase their capacities.
- Improve scheduling and coordination.
Excess of Inventory
Excess of inventory is having more materials or information than what is actually needed. Inventory takes up valuable space, creates the need for more manpower and equipment, ties up money that can be used elsewhere, and has a significant impact on working capital and operational costs. Some inventory is necessary, but most processes can be managed differently to minimize inventory.
- Storing raw materials ahead of requirements.
- Expired, obsolete, and held-for-inspection inventory.
- Archiving documents that are not required and will never be used in the future.
- Storing computer programs that will never be used on hard drives.
- Keeping outdated and duplicated files.
- Giving people documentation they will never read.
- Keep track of inventory levels.
- Reduce unnecessary safety stocks.
- Avoid buying in bulk unless you are sure you will use all of it.
- Apply line balancing and Kanban.
Over-production is producing greater quantities or making more of something than is required by the customer. It is thought to be the worst of the eight as it creates the other types of waste. Over-production increases lead times, consumes more materials, promotes a batch and queue system, hides quality problems, and may prevent other activities from taking place.
- Creating parts or information not needed by the downstream process.
- Producing faster than the downstream process or customer demand.
- Producing information that will never be used or sending reports that will never be looked at.
- Printing multiple versions of the same publication hoping that you will distribute all.
- Produce only what customers want and when they want it.
- Produce as close to the schedule as possible.
- Implement Pull and Kanban.
Over-processing is processing beyond what the customer requires and providing more value than what he or she is willing to pay for. It occurs when you work on the process more than necessary. Over-processing may result from complex processes, poor product or service design, unclear requirements, or internal standards that do not reflect true customer requirements.
- Repeating work which has already been done (mixing a mixed cup of coffee).
- Painting areas that are exposed to dirt or corrosion.
- Using tools that are more precise or using the wrong tool.
- Completing reports in a level of detail that is not required.
- Duplication of work and filling multiple forms with repeated data.
- Find ways to do less and to use less.
- With every task try just do it once.
- With every document try to just touch it once.
- Provide clear standards for every process.
Defects and Errors
Defects and errors occur when the product or service does not serve the purpose it was created for, or when the process doesn’t complete perfectly right the first time. It is the most obvious waste and the easiest to relate. Whenever a defect occurs during a production process, extra costs are incurred as a result of scrapping or reworking the defective products. And if it passed on to the customer, additional costs are incurred as a result of customer returns and negative reputation.
- A manufacturing faulty part that requires rework or needs to be scrapped.
- Producing the wrong product.
- Delivering a product to the wrong destination.
- Not on time in full delivery.
- Typos and spelling mistakes in a resume.
- Missing information or incorrectly completing an application.
- Customer receives the wrong service or nothing at all.
- Find where the error occurs and analyze the root causes.
- Solve the problem as early as possible.
- Avoid multitasking and mind wandering.
Unused Human Skills
Not using the potential and creativity of employees and not involving them is a waste. Organizations employ people for the specific skills they possess, and it is wasteful not taking advantage of their many other skills and capabilities. Many companies now realize that their biggest assets are their employees. It is only by exploiting the ideas and skills of employees that companies can reduce the other types of waste and improve their performance.
- When employees are not effectively engaged in the process.
- When the right person is not available at the right place.
- When the person performing the work is overqualified.
- Make the most of brainstorming and other idea gathering techniques.
- Implement an idea system and encourage employees to make improvement suggestions.
- Ensure that the ideas and suggestions are well heard.
- Show respect and confidence for all by letting them solve their daily problems as owners.
An easy way to remember the eight types of waste is with the acronym TIMWOODS (each letter denotes one of the eight wastes). There are other forms of waste beyond the eight wastes including:
- Wasted space – as the customer will not pay for it.
- Wasted energy – a hidden shared cost.
- Pollution – the producer is increasingly being made to pay for it.
- Excessive resources – as they only increase costs and add no value.
- Capital waste (or wasted money) – throwing money at problems instead of addressing the real root causes.
- Unclear communication, roles, responsibilities, and authority.
- Lack of training, motivation and empowerment.
It is not enough to just identify the wastes. Eliminating them is one of the fundamental objectives of Lean. The countermeasures planning and implementation should include the involvement from all relevant parties. There are many tools and techniques that are used to identify and eliminate waste including:
Waste creates no value and costs a lot of money. Limiting unnecessary waste brings efficiency and effectiveness to the existing processes, improves productivity, reduces lead times and defect rates and saves money. As a result, products and services will better meet customer expectations. Remember, eight kinds of waste at workplaces and offices.
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