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Identifying Lean Wastes In Production Processes

The best part of applying Lean methodology is waste identification and elimination. This approach brings success to one’s business and gifts personal satisfaction. Whether it is an industry or the surrounding physical environment, waste remains a significant area of concern. As they say, charity begins at home. So, only starting waste removal from a smaller territory would lead to making a difference on a global scale. For that, detecting the wastes that are usually ignored is necessary. 

Lean Waste

Previously Lean wastes were of seven types, but the 8th one was added to it in recent years. Doing away with the causes of such wastes is the solution for their removal. One needs to stay alert to identify the significant wastes in different procedures of organizations irrespective of their industries. Value is one of the five fundamentals of Lean methodology, while anything invaluable is considered a waste. So, the latter must be discarded to obtain the former. 

What is meant by Lean methodology in simple words?

This methodology refers to adding value to a product worth the price a consumer pays for it. It involves optimizing an organization’s resources, energy, people, and effort to meet the expected outcome. 

What Are The Lean Wastes To Look For?

Causes and consequences of Lean wastes have been provided here for its enhanced visibility in the functions of an enterprise. It is impressive that even the first letters of the names of the wastes spell ‘DOWNTIME’ if arranged in the correct order. The truth is that increased downtime is evident in waste accumulation in a process. 


‘Defect’ is the other name for the ‘deviation’ between the product completed and its consumer’s desired product. Even the variation from the original design plan is also considered a defect. This waste is the easiest to be identified. Reworked material or rejected scrap are the results of a defect. It bears evidence of the wastage of resources, labour, and time. Product shipping to an incorrect destination, and failure to observe quality inspection, are prominent examples of this kind of Lean waste. Some potential remedies include accurately tracking inventory levels and following all the necessary instructions. 


Producing a good or service ahead of its demand in the market or manufacturing at a higher quantity causes overproduction. This not only wastes an organization’s money but resources, as well. Examples of overproduction are inaccurate information on demand forecasts, overstuffed warehouses, overstaffed production facilities, and unstable production scheduling. JIT(Just-In-Time) manufacturing is the solution to remove or avoid this kind of Lean waste. It reduces a supplier’s time responding to a customer by offering the desired finished product quicker. This results in cost-effectiveness and enhanced productivity


The third lean waste in the sequence is ‘waiting’, resulting in an extension of customer lead time. The delayed movement of people, goods, or processes within the system is the reason behind it. For instance, interrupted loading of goods or materials at the workstation, poor communications, inefficient changeovers, or processing of large batches. Sometimes it could be a delay in putting a simple rubber stamp from the end of the top management. The untimely delivery of raw materials by suppliers is the most common cause. By controlling each of these issues, an organization can eliminate this waste. 

Non-utilized talent

Non-utilization of employees’ potential is undoubtedly a waste not just for the organization but even those working there. A procedure’s opportunities or drawbacks are more visible to executioners than management. Not entrusting employees with the proper responsibilities or taking their feedback makes them lose motivation and become disengaged. As a result, the organization faces high turnover. The wrong personnel selection also increases the chances of human errors, which impedes productivity. The ultimate solution is to train individuals in their respective departments and let them voice their ideas. This would lead to total operational effectiveness. 


This Lean waste is the origin of an organization’s unnecessary expenditure, increased overhead costs, to be more specific. Poor coordination of the logistics team, inaccurate production design, and distant production facilities making equipment movement time-consuming are the causes. Organizations must depend on local providers instead of suppliers located far away. The chances of product mishandling increase with the number of times it is transported from one point to another. Ergonomic factory layout and value stream mapping are the exact remedies to this issue. 


Inventory waste is a direct outcome of overproduction, another Lean waste, as discussed earlier. The stocking of things that aren’t required is also a prominent cause. For instance, the storage of unused machinery expired products or parts, and additional tools to replace outdated ones. Holding inventory also increases expenses in the form of carrying costs and limits fund usage. An excess of the same product may become obsolete in the market and lack consumer demand. Maintaining a balance between supply and demand will prevent the emergence of this waste in an organization.


This is the Lean waste resulting from unnecessary movement within the workstation. It is the hardest to identify this waste since motion is intangible. The time lost while moving from one spot to another to fetch production supplies often goes uncalculated. A practical solution for eliminating this waste is to plan the storage of equipment ergonomically. Procedures that involve too much machine movement need to be avoided, or they would end up increasing physical injuries. 

Extra processing

A product becomes complex due to extra processing, but its consumer value gets no better or deteriorates. Multi-layered approval and decision-making of processes, adding additional product features, and unspecified quality standards cause process exaggeration. The key is to avoid redundancies by deploying improved strategies, tools, and technologies. The success of a product depends on its quality to impress a customer and not on how long it takes to get manufactured. 

Preparing reports on waste disposal to calculate the incurred expenses under different heads is an effective method of checking Lean wastes. Another solution is to recruit individuals who are equipped to implement the lean methodology and avoid wastage of any kind. Professional courses like Certified Lean Manufacturing Practitioner Training are just fit for aspirants wanting to make a career in waste identification. 

Posted in Quality Management

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