Lean Concepts and the 8 Wastes

2 min read

8-wastes-of-Lean-ManufacturingLean Concepts promotes the ideal of maximizing customer value while reducing waste. With lean thinking, an organization utilizes key processes to increase customer value while reaching for a goal of zero waste.

The concept argues there are eight primary wastes throughout business, regardless of the industry. And the term waste doesn’t refer to disposables. It refers to processes that add no value to relationships with customers and clients.


    1. Overproduction
      Designing or supporting a product or service no one wants is waste. Companies are learning the old idiom of always running at full capacity leads to non-value processing. Today, production systems should be carefully streamlining, leveling strategically and using time analysis to reduce waste.

    1. Non-Value Added Processes
      In broad terms, non-value added processing is anything that adds unnecessary steps to any procedure. An extreme example is product inspection. While we understand the need for it, if everything was confidently done right the first time, inspection wouldn’t be needed. Value stream mapping and root cause analyses can be beneficial here, reducing waste significantly.

    1. Motion
      Minimizing energy and time helps minimize waste. This is a difficult challenge. Reducing waste here may not impact the value stream as adjustments in other categories might. Waste is still waste and every step to decrease waste is a productive one. Motion and time studies can be advantageous.
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    1. Transportation
      Materials not being directly worked on, even while being transported to a customer, is waste. This is probably the hardest category to navigate. In the office, this is dealt with utilizing the telex, phone and fax. The Internet eliminates waste of paper and manpower, transferring information in seconds to multiple destinations. Supply chain optimization, linear programming and value stream mapping can reduce waste here.

    1. Inventory
      Waste leads to waste and inventory proves it. Inventory entails waiting, expiries, defects, overproduction, non-value added processing and more. It takes up space. In this category, wasted inventory also entails unread mail and unprocessed purchasing orders. The idea is to have zero inventory and materials in place only when needed. Supply chain optimization, variation and capability studies, and inventory modeling can reduce waste in both manufacturing and office settings.

    1. Defects
      Any implementation that doesn’t meet customer requirements or standards is waste. Getting orders wrong, clerical errors that cost time and manpower, miscommunications that lead to extra processing. These are the result of mismanagement and needs to be reduced to improve relations, productivity and morale.

    1. Waiting
      No waste is more blatant than doing nothing. There is only value when the machines are producing and manpower is being utilized. Invoices waiting to be signed is waste. Not be able to complete a process until someone completes their part is waste. Well implemented pull production and workflow balance will minimize this waste.

    1. Unused Employee Creativity
      Employees are any company’s greatest asset. Not utilizing them is also a company’s greatest waste. Encouragement of ideas is vital to success and morale. Promote creativity and be supportive. Use assets to ensure top of the line productivity and a strong future foundation. Idea gathering and brainstorming sessions will help reduce this waste.