The 8 Lean wastes

The elimination of wastes is the core principle of Lean Management. Initially, this applied to production processes (think Toyota). But today, this applies to all types of processes. So, even in your office or home environments, you can work more efficiently if you take note of these wastes. There are, of course, many more wastes that can be considered when it comes to the improvement of processes, but they ultimately all fall within the below 8 categories.

Lean was originally based on 7 wastes. We’d prefer to discuss 8 wastes, because the waste of skills can also play a role in today’s world.

In this article, we list all the wastes and show you what to be aware of in order to work more efficiently. Once again, the type of process is insignificant. The ultimate goal is the adding of value for the customer.

Waste 1: waiting

Waiting is the result of a process that doesn’t run properly. Waiting time is often filled with activities that add no value. By interconnecting all process steps, you can prevent waiting and can work more efficiently.

Waste 2: over-processing

Over-processing involves doing more than what’s demanded by the customer. Predetermine all expectations with the customer and comply with those. Make sure that you don’t do less than expected while, at the same time, not doing more. The customer only wants what he has requested, not unnecessary extras that add no value.

Waste 3: inventory

A large inventory sounds like a fantastic idea because you’ll always have enough stock. However, when you consider the time and money required for storage and finding the right resources, a large inventory returns nothing. For this reason, make sure that you hold only as much stock as you need. Obviously, this means that the process must run well so that you know exactly how much stock you need.

Waste 4: transportation

Transportation waste can take on many forms, including too much, too little or too often. In an ideal scenario, precisely enough is delivered at exact times so that nothing has to be stored and there are no waiting times. Waste can also occur when it comes to the transportation of information.

Waste 5: defects

Mistakes are part of human nature, but can result in a lot of waste. After all, defects must be repaired. This, in turn, consumes time that cannot be considered value-adding. In an ideal process, defects are simply impossible because everything runs so smoothly that human intervention is unnecessary.

Waste 6: over-production

Not producing more than the customer needs is the solution to eliminating over-production. Over-production results in excess inventory that you’ll probably find hard to shift. In addition, there’s a good chance that raw materials are wasted if production involves semi-manufactured or end products.

Waste 7: motion

Excess motion within a process also results in waste. Not necessarily in terms of the energy of those performing the motion, but in terms of time. Everything located in the right place simply saves more time and allows the process to proceed faster.

Waste 8: skills

The waste of skills is the waste that initially wasn’t part of the list. Today, it’s much more often the case that people with – for instance – great(er) skillsets cannot or aren’t required to use their knowledge in their jobs. This isn’t just an extreme waste of knowledge, but can also result in dissatisfied and demotivated employees.

As you can see, many of these wastes overlap one another. So, the effects of addressing one waste can be felt by another waste.

Sometimes, it is impossible to eliminate all wastes. It might, in fact, be necessary to transport a product along multiple routes in order to add value. Ultimately, everything revolves around making the process run as smoothly as possible so that the customer is satisfied with the final result.