Wastes of Lean Manufacturing : how to avoid Muda

Wastes of Lean Manufacturing are here. Wastes are in the world of lean manufacturing known as Muda. It is the Japanese term for waste.. It is all about waste in manufacturing environment .

In recent times due to the increasing demand for consumer goods or either industrial products, the companies do look to optimize their processes and maximize their profits. The scarcity for resources globally makes wasting of resources a big deal for the next generations.

What is Muda in Lean Manufacturing

The waste is an object that cannot be consumed or used for a personal need. From the Janapnses production systems, the waste is defined as “Muda” which means wastefulness. In lean manufacturing methodologies, there are well defined seven deadly wastes that contribute. The seven Muda wastes can give as follows;

  1. Overproduction
  2. On hand waiting
  3. Transportation
  4. Inappropriate processing
  5. Stock at hand
  6. Unnecessary excess movements
  7. Defects
  8. Downtime


This pilar can consider as the giant killer for the waste and has a prominent contribution towards waste. A company that complies with best lean practices must not do overproduction. When you do overproduction it will have impacts as follows;

  • The inventory space will be limited
  • Overtime payment cost will be high
  • High risk of putting the machines for permeant damage
  • High consumption of raw material will lead to bottlenecks in inventory
  • If the market price goes down of the products, the impact will be high financially

It is the main reasons I can think of giving. Therefore, you can observe how much impact it can have on an organization due to waste.

How to avoid overproduction

Having a better co-relation with a monthly plan and the amount to produce would be the best thing to do in here. First thing would be to start your production recording via a proper Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. If you are a small company, then use an excel sheet and takes the records. We know that production is based on planning. The overproduction must have occurred due to issues in planning.

muda: manufacturing overproduction
manufacturing overproduction can have a bigger impact on the company

Practically when a new product that comes into the factory, we usually make the samples and take the cycle time and takt time. According to the takt time and cycle time, we make the plan by allocating the time for production. For a new product, I would suggest having a minimum of 100 samples to get the production record.

If your cycle time is wrong, then it will be a huge problem. I guess trying to focus on the cycle time at first by taking the record on nine times on the morning, evening and 1 hour before the production will give you a value that may have a very low error in the record. It is the basic that you can do and better to come up with decision according to your setup and reduce the muda.

2. On hand waiting

The waiting for a production to come from one section to another is a loss for the company. Basically, this is very common in manufacturing companies where batch processes are involved. As an example, if we take the automobile industry, it does have a continuous process from one end to another. Therefore, by using Andon systems if any waiting or issues is there, it can be identified. Mainly if one plant does go off another one may have to wait. But if you have implemented proper lean manufacturing techniques the waste for waiting can reduce significantly

How to avoid On hand waiting muda

It depends on the production process. For a batch process here what I can say, mainly start to look into your inventory at first and work in progress. Take a general recording for every section now. Then set a benchmark to keep the minimum production amount that needs to transfer to the other department when necessary. Make sure to keep a recording every hour, if it goes to a downtrend then you need to look into it. It can monitor via using lean technique overall equipment effectiveness to every machinery if you can keep the minimum quantity that needs to transfer to the other production department. The waste will minimize drastically.

3. Transportation

Yes, it is an essential thing in every production organization. Even the geographical location matters for a successful business. The more closely it can get raw material supply and also sending the goods, the process will get success. Internal transportation is mainly done by using trucks and forklifts. However, the processes are very inefficient most of the time and do not follow any protocol to do transportation, and it causes a very big time waste.

How to avoid transportation muda

When it comes to internal setup, the production departments that have a close connection from one to another must be situated nearby. Actually, for an established organization, this is difficult to do. Moreover, transportation waste can reduce by having a value stream mapping, and it will help to eliminate any unnecessary movements and the locations where you can optimize the process. For operational excellence, a smooth flowing factory flow is vital. 

4. Inappropriate processing

Usage of proper machinery for a designated process requires for a factory. I have seen some of the organizations do use sophisticated machinery for a process that can achieve with small basic tools. This leads to waste in no time. At first, you may not see it as a waste, but more you go from inappropriate processing means a loss for the company, especially financially. Not only the machinery sometimes, but the unnecessary allocation of workers leads to a waste of workforce capacity as well.

muda lean manufacturing
Production floor must not have unnecessary processes.

How to avoid inappropriate processing muda

 There is only one simple thing that can do to avoid this, which is doing feasibility analyze of each process by studying the standard operating procedures (Sops). Then see whether the processing is using the right manoeuvres. Setting the work station in the factory layout can also avoid inappropriate processing and avoid the muda.

5. Stock at hand

Piling your finished goods is a waste, having an inventory that does not also move in the same category. The common issue in the industry I have seen is that when it comes to delivering the goods to the customer if there is an inventory that is jammed, you will surely have a waste. This is where the inventory needs to manage well. For seasonal products, companies do build up a stock mainly from imported items. Some stocks are in the same place for more than 1,2 years, and it wastes the valuable space that can use for another good to keep. The most interesting thing is most of the company managements do consider this as an asset rather than waste. Moving the stocks from the inventory is also valuable, like delivery the goods to the customer.

How to avoid stock at hand

Stock counts must take in every quarter, as I above mentioned if there are items that are there in the stocks for more than 1,2 years and still do not have any use of it anymore, better to sell or scrap it for the betterment of the company. If there is work in progress, make sure to process them before looking forward.

6. Unnecessary excess movements

This waste is mainly about the management of the workflow, in a production floor people we can see may movements. The movements must be minimized to the least to keep a clean floor. The worker’s movement needs to minimize the lowest in order to get a better working floor.

How to avoid unnecessary excess movements muda

Working according to plan and displaying notification boards around the factory premises will be a good way to do it. Apart from that, managing the break times for the workforce also a good initiate. As an example, the lunch can be arranged in 3 different time slots where it can reduce the congestions. For this pillar, you can come up with excellent initiatives to reduce muda.

7. Defects

Quality defects are inevitable. Even your organization try to use the best ISO practises and lean practices; still defects do come. The defects are a big waste. Some products such as soap can be used for recycling and make the soap base again, but in general, the majority of the products cannot use again for any purpose. Most of the companies just throw away the waste when there is no use of it. If the company is an exporting business, they will try to sell the products to the local market for a low price as well. Hence, it makes clear that defects are always a problem for an organization.

How to avoid defects

The waste of coming on defects can avoid by having continuous improvement initiatives

I have written an article on why continuous improvement can benefit your organization: refer it in here for more info.

Apart from that, checking the machine quality via having proper Total productive maintenance (TPM) plan can help to reduce the defects.

8. Downtime

It is the newest addition to the Muda wastes now it has eight waste types that need to consider. Yes, machine downtime is a waste cause every company works on a schedule, and they are serving their customers. If the company unable to deliver the goods to the customer, they will lose him, which is a big loss.

How to avoid downtime Muda

Avoiding this would be to 100% would be difficult cause we never know when a machine gets a breakdown. We can reduce the probability but not to zero. Besides, Some companies even face downtimes due to major electricity failures. Reducing to them minimum level would be the best thing you can do as an organization for this scenario.

How lean manufacturing can help to sort Muda

As I have mentioned earlier, lean manufacturing methods can reduce most of these waste types. The following tools can use. If you like to read, please refer to the previous articles which I have written;

  • Value stream mapping
  • Continuous improvement process
  • Kanban
  • Visual factory
  • OEE

Theses are the main lean manufacturing methods that can use to reduce the Muda in a factory environment from my experience, and you can try the rest of the ways accordingly.

Final saying about Muda 8 wastes

Eventually, as a company, you will be looking for better profit margins and high revenue. Therefore, in this competitive cooperate environment, you cannot lose the game just your company unable to satisfy the customer. To success in any business, I recommend you to look into this stated eight mainly stated issues and make the necessary actions for your company to shine in future. You can also prefer my article about future automation and how it can help to reduce waste.

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