Focus on Waste elimination

Focus on Waste elimination

By Dragana Tancic

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Focus on Waste elimination



Any process or activity can be classified into one of the three categories:

  • Value-added work
  • Non-Value Added work
  • Waste or Muda

Focus on waste elimination is based on the idea of increasing value with less work.Anything that doesn´t increase value should be made to eliminate that waste.

The acronym DOWNTIME stands for 8 lean manufacturing wastes

D - Defects

O - Overproduction

W - Waiting

N - Non –value added processing

T - Transportation

I - Inventory

M - Motion

E - Employee unutilized skills


image Defects

Defects in products/services are creating and manufacturing defective products/services that have to be reworked and in the case of service where human energy is wasteful.

The first potential cause is the lack of in process control points, and as a result, we have a situation that the longer a defect is allowed to move through the process and the more it costs.Another common cause of defects us low-quality material from our suppliers.

Overcoming defect wastes can be done with these lean tools :

  • Root cause of the problem,
  • Poka-yoke ( mistake proofing ),
  • 5Why analysis asking why multiple times to identify the root cause of a problem
  • Fishbone diagram with placing defect at the head of the fish,while the bones of the fish are potential caused.
  • Jidoka or automation of the process. All the production lines are automated and machines are able to detect when an issue has occurred.
  • Standardisation and making SOPs


Overproduction is producing more than the customer needs right now.It is due to lack of resources and production planning, the volume of sales not estimated correctly, a desperate intent to avoid late deliveries or to have enough inventory while changeover is too long.

Overproduction is caused due to:

  • Just in case production
  • Poorly applied automation
  • Producing to forecast,...

Overcoming overproduction wastes can be done with these lean tools:

  • Kanban as a scheduling system for just-in-time manufacturing
  • Visual management which enables very clear what will go in the marked off areas
  • SMED-”Single Minute Exchange of Die ” is the practice of reducing the time to change from one method or product to another, where the goal is  to reduce Changeover Time SMED methodology is the support to JIT production. 


Waiting is the idle time before the next processing step. Examples are when employees wait for parts,machines,information,... Wait time is translated into DOWNTIME without creating value.It can be caused by lack of raw materials or because of poor planning,too few machines, lack of a clear process, quality problems at steps earlier in the process, or waiting for a signature approval.

Overcoming waiting wastes can be done with these lean tools:

  • Root cause problem,
  • Workload balancing, which enables in balancing cycle time and takt time module  straight to our value stream course
  • Visual Management
  • Heijunka or levelling the type and quantity of production over a fixed period of time.

imageNon-value added processing

We have it with activities that do not contribute to the product or the process and should, therefore, be eliminated. Non-value added steps are the waste.It refers to manipulating and changing services or products above and beyond what the customer is willing to pay.

Overcoming extra processing wastes can be done with these lean tools:

  • Value stream mapping
  • Flow manufacturing
  • Visual controls and workplace organisation (5S concepts)
  • Standardized operations


The of transportation is the movement of materials that adds no value to the product.It involves relocating,moving of raw materials,tools,finished products for use at different stages of a process.Causes of transportation wastes are in not optimised plant layouts, due to mass production which still produce large batch sizes that require being moved about the plant,unnecessary or excessive steps in the process,...

Overcoming transportation wastes can be done with these lean tools:

  • Cellular layout whereby material flows in a smooth and consistent manner;
  • One peace flows concept which helps us to operate within our work areas
  • Having clear material



Inventory stands for supply in excess. The waste of inventory is any material or work on hand other than what's needed right now. Inventory is directly related to cash flow,because if we have excess inventory that we have already paid a lot of money, for now, sitting on shelves taking up spaces is the waste of money.

The main reason should be because of making extra parts in case of scrap, to mask quality problems o manufacturing problems. Another reason could be the result of badly guided selling the plan.Finally, it can be when companies attempt to build to forecast problems arise.

Overcoming inventory wastes can be done with these lean tools:

  • SMED ( Single minute exchange of dies). Target is referred to quick changeover, to do as much of the setup while the machine is running, so that when the machine does stop we can quickly get it ready to produce another type of product.
  • One piece flow which enables work is balanced to takt time and each worker is fully aware of what is happening upstream and downstream.
  • Kanban enables scheduling process for JIT production

imageMotion waste

Motion waste is any movement of employees and equipment that does not add value to a product/service such as walking to and from the machine to machine,excessive effort or process steps,...

Main reasons lay in poorly designed processes since they are not designed with the operator in mind.Another reason should be due to lack of SOPs since the work is never done in a consistent way.Poor work area layout and design should be also the reason of  motion.

Overcoming waiting wastes can be done with these lean tools:

  • 5S is five step methodology wich was a building block to allow Just-In-Time(5S stands for Sort,Straighten,Shine,Standardize and Sustain)
  • Workflow analysis or spaghetti diagram is another tool.Very simple but powerful spaghetti diagram is simply a sketch of the walking and motion involved in the particular process.


imageEmployee unutilized skills

Taichi Ohno considered the 8th type of waste. It stands for underutilising people's talents,skills & knowledge. Having employees with good experience and ideas is valuable, and the worst thing is to ignore it completely.

Employees are part of the processes and are in the best position to tell what's wrong with process step and how management can improve upon them. If not, morale will decline and employees languish at work. 

Overcoming waiting wastes can be done with these lean tools:

  • Brainstorming
  • Minute meetings as a part of collecting information for Management reviews.

Lean six sigma methodologies are set of tools that many people turn to when they need the best tools for waste elimination and process improvement. Using the principles of lean, all these mentioned types of wastes can be eliminated, depending on the company and their specific needs for waste elimination.

               So turn your wastes in profit with Six-sigma methodology -













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Dragana Tancic