Lean Solutions, LLC.

... a consulting services company

Muda (無駄)

Muda means wastefulness, uselessness and futility.   Muda detracts from adding value to the product or service that the customer is willing to pay for.   Muda can be segregated into Muda Type 1 and Muda Type 2.   Muda Type 1 includes non-value-added activities in the processes that are necessary for the end customer.   Safety testing, for example, does not directly add value to the final product.   Without safety testing however, it is impossible to create a safe product for customers and therefore it cannot be eliminated.   Muda Type 2 also includes non-value added activities in the processes, but these activities are not required by the customer and as a result, Muda Type 2 should be eliminated.

There are seven categories of waste under Muda Type 2 that follow the mnemonic TIM WOOD.   Plus there is one more type of waste that can (and should) also be included.
The seven (really eight) wastes are ...

(1) Transport

When time and resources are spent transporting inventory or materials from one place to another, waste occurs.   This transportation does not add value so it's important to minimize these costs.  Transport can create waste through people wasting time, through damage to materials caused by tranport and it leads directly to another Muda waste: Waiting.   Transport can also involve moving tools and equipment.   If your maintenance department has to return to the tool crib for each tool they need during the day, a great deal of time is wasted in that activity.   Sending overstocked inventory back to the warehouse is another example of transportation waste.   Plant and work cell layout can have a dramtic effect on transportation.

(2) Inventory

Storing materials in excess of what is needed at this time results in Inventory waste.   This results in wasting space which translates to inventory carrying costs.   Inventory waste is not limited only to manufacturing and it is not limited only to raw materials.   Unused or rarely used equipment is another example of inventory waste.   Many types of inventory are perishable.   Having large supplies of unused inventory can contribute to waste as the viability of the raw materials may degrade over time.   Many materials offices employ a buying strategy of "Just-In-Case" when they should be working towards "Just-In-Time". Involving your suppliers in your Lean initiatives will yield substantial savings of Inventory waste.

(3) Motion

Wasted motion exists in all facets of our lives.   Spending time searching for tools or materials, handing off work to the next person when you could do it yourself, unnecessary meetings and too many steps to process a form or webpage are all examples of wasted motion.   The factors contributing to wasted motion can include poor workstation design, poor process design, lack of (or not adhering to) standard work instructions and insufficient tools and equipment to work independantly.   In a manufacturing enviornment, ergonomics can play a important role in reduce the waste of motion while having a positive effect on employee health and safety.

(4) Waiting

Unbalanced processes result in waiting.   When an employee has to wait for another process to be completed before they can continue to work, the waste of waiting is the result.   These un-finished process can take the form of missing inventory, missing information, defects in work-in-process materials, equipment downtime and overproduction (large batch sizes) to name a few.   Getting your processes in balance will help curtail the waste of waiting.   Tools such as Takt time will help you minimize your waiting times during production as it helps you focus on the removal bottlenecks and line balancing.   Takt time is often refered to as the heartbeat of the production process.   TPM or Total Preventative Maintenance is also a very powerful tool that will help eliminate the waste of waiting from your operations.   By bringing the operators into maintaning their own equipment through preventative cleaning and maintenance an improved machine uptime can be realized.

(5) Overproduction

When you produce more of a product than can be consumed at the time you create the waste of overproduction.   For example your in-laws are coming to dinner.   In response you make enough spaghetti to feed 10 people.   This is a pretty clear exmaple of overproduction and it obvisouly translates to waste.   Of course you can simply put the excess in the refrigerator but that creates the waste of excess inventory.   What would be much better is to only cook enough food for the number of people coming to dinner.   The same is true in a manufacturing environment.   Waste is created by producing too much of anything.   You might have too many sub-assemblies filling up your work-stations. You can also waste through creating excess paperwork or labels.   Filling out the same information on multiple forms is an example of overproduction too.   Creating finished goods stock that sits unused wastes both materials and labor not to mention valuable floor space.   Overproduction is typically caused by inaccurate planning processes.   In western manufacturing we are taught to always be busy making more (get ahead on the schedule).   This mindset leads directly to overproduction.   Another common reason for overproduction is long tool change over times.   It seems to make sense to run as much material as possible with each tools setup even when that material is not required.   Changing this mindset can have a tremendous impact on minimizing overproduction.

(6) Over processing

When you're doing work that does not add value to the product for the customer you are over procssing.   Over processing can occur on the manufacturing floor, in the office or even in sales environment.   Any time you find yourself adding extra labor that is not a value add, you are over processing. At best over processing leads to wasted materials and labor.   At worst it can lead to the customer rejecting the product outright.   Let's say, for example, you are painting a fleet of cars for a delivery company and the customer has specified a dark blue color but while the paint is being applied, your painter decides he really likes a metallic flake and so he adds some into the paint.   This is a prime example of over processing that very well may have your entire work output rejected by the customer.   Clear quality standards, posted standard work instructions and careful scheduling are ways to avoid over processing.

(7) Defects

Defects that result in waste can be components or sub-assemblies that are made poorly or not up to design standards.   Missing items such as screws or other small parts also qualify as defects.   Defects can exist in all areas of an organization from sales (through ordering mistakes), in production, during shipping (poor packaging or handling) and all the way through invoicing and accounting.   Handling material (through the waste of transporation) can easily lead to defects.   Defects are anything that makes a part or product substandard according to established quality standards.   Focusing on production quotas instead of quality is the most common cause of defects.   Time spent to identify and eliminate defects from the production process is an excellent place to focus your Lean strategy. Attribute charts such as c charts, p charts and u charts are some of the tools that can be used to measure and report defects.   Supplier scorecards can also be a effective tool to ensure receiving quality materials.

(8) Talent (unused)

Any person peforms best if they are doing a task for which they are both qualified for and passionate about.   Too often organizations don't try to match employees to tasks that fit their skills.  

If any of these things are happening in your organization you are probably wasting talent:

  • Poor communication
  • Poor teamwork
  • Poor training
  • Right person, wrong job
  • Inadequate leadership