7 Wastes of Lean Manufacturing

Learn which are the 7 wastes of lean manufacturing and how you can work towards eliminating them

The concept of the 7 wastes of lean manufacturing originated at Toyota in the mid-20th century in Japan. As Toyota sought to improve its manufacturing processes and efficiency, it identified seven common forms of waste that hindered productivity and added unnecessary costs. Thus, these wastes became foundational principles of lean manufacturing, guiding organizations worldwide in their pursuit of operational excellence. To begin with, let’s delve into each of these wastes and explore how they manifest in manufacturing environments, along with strategies for eliminating them.

1. Transportation Waste

When discussing lean manufacturing, one of the key areas of focus is transportation waste. This waste refers to the unnecessary movement of materials or products within a facility or between different locations, which adds no value to the final product and can increase lead times and costs.

In automotive manufacturing, for instance, excessive movement of parts or components between workstations can lead to delays and inefficiencies.

To address transportation waste effectively, businesses can implement various strategies aimed at:

1) optimizing layout and workflow design

2) implementing just-in-time delivery systems, and

3) consolidating shipments to reduce the frequency of transportation.

2. Motion Waste

Moreover, motion waste is another crucial aspect to consider, when discussing lean manufacturing principles. This waste encompasses unnecessary movements of workers or equipment during the production process, leading to fatigue, inefficiency, and an increased risk of errors.

In a job shop setting, excessive motion often occurs when workers must search for tools or supplies, perform repetitive tasks, or navigate cluttered workspaces.

To address motion waste effectively, organizations can implement:

1) ergonomic workstations,

2) standardize work processes to minimize unnecessary movements, and

3) provide training to employees on efficient work practices.

3. Waiting Waste

What is more, when addressing lean manufacturing principles, waiting waste emerges as a significant concern. This waste occurs when products, materials, or workers are idle due to delays in the production process, resulting in decreased productivity, increased lead times, and missed deadlines.

In custom manufacturing, waiting waste can occur when production is halted due to equipment breakdowns, material shortages, or inefficient scheduling.

To combat waiting waste effectively, organizations can:

1) optimize production schedules to balance workloads and minimize downtime,

2) implement preventive maintenance programs to reduce equipment failures and improve

3) communication and coordination between departments.

4. Overproduction Waste

Furthermore, overproduction waste poses a significant challenge in lean manufacturing, occurring when more products are produced than are immediately needed or demanded by customers. This waste ties up valuable resources, increases inventory levels, and can lead to obsolescence and storage costs.

In job shop manufacturing, overproduction waste can result from inaccurate demand forecasting, inefficient production scheduling, or excessive batch sizes.

To tackle overproduction waste effectively, organizations can:

1) adopt a pull-based production system, where products are manufactured in response to customer demand,

2) implement just-in-time inventory management practices, and focus on reducing setup times to enable smaller batch sizes.

5. Overprocessing Waste

Moving forward, overprocessing waste poses a significant challenge in lean manufacturing, referring to any unnecessary or excessive processing of materials or products beyond what is required to meet customer specifications. This waste adds complexity, cost, and time to the production process without adding value.

In custom manufacturing, overprocessing waste can occur when products are finished to a higher standard than necessary or when additional processing steps are added without justification.

To minimize overprocessing waste effectively, organizations can conduct value stream mapping to:

1) identify non-value-added activities,

2) standardize work processes to eliminate unnecessary steps, and

3) implement visual management techniques to highlight areas of waste.

6. Inventory Waste

Moreover, inventory waste represents a critical challenge in lean manufacturing, occurring when excess inventory is held beyond what is needed for immediate production or customer demand. This waste ties up capital, consumes storage space, and can lead to obsolescence and carrying costs.

In job shop manufacturing, inventory waste can result from overproduction, inaccurate demand forecasting, or inefficient inventory management practices.

To address inventory waste effectively, organizations can:

1) implement kanban systems to regulate inventory levels and signal when replenishment is needed,

2) adopt just-in-time inventory practices to minimize excess stock, and improve demand forecasting accuracy through data analysis and collaboration with suppliers.

7. Defects Waste

Lastly, defects waste represents a significant challenge in lean manufacturing, encompassing errors, defects, or rework that occur during the production process, leading to scrapped or reworked products, increased costs, and decreased customer satisfaction.

In custom manufacturing, defects waste can arise from design errors, equipment malfunctions, or human error during production.

To effectively reduce defects waste, organizations can:

1) implement quality control measures such as error-proofing (poka-yoke) devices and inspection checkpoints,

2) conduct root cause analysis to identify and address underlying causes of defects, and

3) provide training to employees on quality standards and procedures.


In conclusion, the 7 wastes of lean manufacturing serve as a framework for identifying and eliminating inefficiencies in manufacturing processes. By addressing transportation, motion, waiting, overproduction, overprocessing, inventory, and defects waste, organizations can streamline operations, reduce costs, and improve overall productivity and customer satisfaction.

Epoptia provides advanced manufacturing execution system (MES) solutions designed to optimize production processes, minimize waste, and drive continuous improvement.

To learn more about how Epoptia MES can help your organization achieve lean manufacturing excellence, request a presentation today.

For more information, check https://bit.ly/3vYnb4f.

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