7 Wastes

7 Wastes of Lean manufacturing and its Elimination / Waste Management

7 Wastes identification and waste management from any process is the start of Operational Excellence journey. Every process leads to either value addition or waste to the production. “Muda” is a Japanese word which was originally developed by Toyota’s Chief Engineer Taiichi Ohno.

Elimination of “Muda” or wastes from any process is one of the most effective ways to increase the profitability of the business.

Before eliminating wastes from manufacturing, it is important to understand types of wastes in lean manufacturing. Though each factory manufactures different product, types of wastes found in manufacturing are quite similar. 

Value, Value Addition & Waste

Before going into definition and types of wastes in manufacturing, it is very important to understand concept of Value and Value addition. 

“Value is anything customer is willing to pay for.” 

Let’s understand it by an example. We provide different kinds of training to our employees to improve their skills, to improve their performance. But Is customer is willing to pay extra money for your product because you are conducting some training for your employee? No, Customer will not pay for such activities.

“Value addition activities are those activities which add value to the product or service.”

E.g. Consider your raw material is having its value as rupee 100 per piece and it is at your suppliers location. Now you have moved it from supplier’s location to your factory, does its value will get changed? Does customer will pay extra money for this activity?  No, as customer doesn’t care for this activity. He will pay you only for price of your product.

With understanding of Value and Value addition, we can state the definition of waste as:

“Wastes: Activities which consumes resources but doesn’t add any value to your product or service.”

7 Types of Wastes (Muda)

In lean manufacturing, there are Seven types of wastes: “TIMWOOD”

T : Transportation

I: Inventory

M: Motion

W: Waiting

O: Overproduction

O: Over processing

D: Defects


Transportation waste arises when you move things from one place to another. Transportation increases costs, needs time and may result in product damage. Transport waste can easily be reduced by reorganizing the physical layouts and process simplification. The goal should be a less frequent handling of products with the shortest possible distances between process steps.

Transportation waste is based on the following root causes:

  • Poor factory layout.
  • Poor process planning with unnecessary steps.
  • Wrongly aligned process flow.
  • Insufficient communication tools.


Inventory excess waste happens when the supply exceeds the real customer demand.

Root causes include:

  • Overproduction
  • Buffer exceeds need.
  • Lack of proper monitoring systems.
  • Production speed not aligned to demand.
  • Suppliers are not reliable.
  • Long set-up times.


Motion waste results from movement that does not add value to the goods produced. The rearrangement of workstation layouts to reduce the distances has a huge impact on the reduction of motion waste. In addition, proper procedures for the sharing of tools and machines should be implemented. The usage of mobile devices for data collection and tasks fulfilment also decreases motion waste.

Root causes for motion waste include:

  • Poor factory and production line layout.
  • Sharing of machines and tools.
  • Processes are not aligned and result in motion overhead.
  • Work standards are not in place.


Waiting times happen whenever the work has to be interrupted. Reasons include but are not limited to missing materials, waiting for approval to proceed work or because of machine downtimes. Waiting times occur if workers have to wait until a bottleneck is removed. Providing better tools for communication is a means to remedy waiting times. This allows better coordination and more flexible operational processes, e.g. by allowing ad-hoc requests such as ad-hoc material replenishment or approval requests.

Root causes for waiting times can be:

  • Unplanned machine downtime
  • Long set-up and machine changeover times
  • Inadequate staffing
  • Absence from work
  • Poor planning and process documentation
  • Lack of communication tools


Overproduction typically occurs when workers continue to produce blindly, even if the output cannot be processed because receivers are not ready or do not need the output at the given point of time. The remedy to overproduction is better planning and work coordination.

The implementation of standard procedures for each process is needed. Bottlenecks in the process sequence should be removed and measures to improve the transparency of the entire production process should be implemented. Overproduction ties up a considerable amount of working capital and must not be accepted.

Root causes for overproduction usually include:

  • Just-in-case production
  • Weak planning
  • Long-setup and machine changeover times


Excess processing happens when work processes are poorly designed or not documented properly. This results in inefficiencies such as multiple versions of the same task, e.g. several signatures, polishing components that do not require it, entering duplicated data or processing more goods than required. To overcome over processing, standardizing processes is key. This should include the reduction of unneeded process steps such as unnecessary documentation, approvals and meetings.

Root causes include:

  • Poorly designed processes
  • Lack of standards
  • Lack of communication and proper communication tools
  • Human error


Defects are mistakes which need additional resources, time and money to remedy the situation. In manufacturing operations, defects may include broken components that need to be rebuilt. Complete elimination of all defects is not possible, but defects can be limited by applying stricter quality control and documentation procedures such as standard work instructions or checklists.

Root causes for defects usually include:

  • The lack of sufficient quality control processes
  • Missing repair and documentation standards
  • Undocumented design changes
  • Misunderstood customer requirements

In today’s competitive manufacturing environment, achieving waste reduction and maximizing efficiency is crucial for businesses to succeed. To achieve this, companies need to adopt a Lean manufacturing approach and implement the various waste elimination strategies available.

By focusing on waste elimination and efficiency improvement, companies can streamline their operations, reduce costs, improve quality, and enhance their overall competitiveness.

To achieve waste reduction and maximize efficiency, companies should also invest in employee training and engagement, as well as modern manufacturing technology, to automate and optimize their production processes.

So, are you ready for waste identification and elimination program ?

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