What Are the 7 Wastes of Lean? - Campbell Corporation

Campbell Corporation

What Are the 7 Wastes of Lean?

Like so many other industries, manufacturing is set to grow dramatically in the next few years. In fact, it’s estimated that 4.6 million new manufacturing jobs will become necessary within the next decade.

Along with so much room for growth, however, there’s also much room for improvement: many factory layouts and facility designs feature areas of waste that cost companies money. To help address these areas of waste, Taiichi Ohno of Toyota invented the “seven wastes” of lean manufacturing engineering as part of the Toyota Production System (TPS).

Manufacturing consulting firms help companies pinpoint and avoid these areas of waste in their processes. An eighth waste — skill — was introduced when lean manufacturing engineering was adopted in the West, but the following are the original seven.


Waste in transportation involves the unnecessary movement of people, tools, equipment, inventory, or products. Excessive movement of materials can result in product defects or damage. Unnecessary movement of people and equipment can result in needless work, greater wear-and-tear on equipment, and exhaustion in workers.

To avoid transport waste, workers who often collaborate should be stationed in the same area. Materials should be as easy to access as possible for production.


Excess inventory might not seem like waste at first; after all, inventory is considered an asset by accountants. But having more inventory than you need to sustain a steady output can lead to costly issues. Product defects and damage to materials are more likely to occur, there can be a greater-than-necessary lead time in production, and problems can be hiding out in the dense inventory.

To avoid inventory waste, raw materials should only be purchased when needed. A queue system should be utilized to avoid overproduction. Files shouldn’t be stored for excessive lengths of time while they’re waiting to be worked on, and customers shouldn’t be kept waiting in growing lines for service.


Waste in motion includes all unnecessary movement of people, machinery, and equipment. Walking, reaching, lifting, bending, and stretching are all included in this category.

To avoid this waste in lean manufacturing engineering, regular tasks involving excessive or uncomfortable movement should be redesigned to involve less movement. Files and materials should be stored where they’re most likely to be needed. Software programs should involve as few mouse clicks as possible.


Waiting can involve idle equipment and people waiting for material and equipment. Wait times are typically caused by unevenness in production and can result in excess inventory and overproduction. In an office environment, waiting waste can simply involve waiting for people to respond to email, waiting for files to be reviewed, and waiting for computers to load.

Whether in the office or on the factory floor, processes should be designed for continuous flow or single-piece flow. Workloads should be leveled out with standardized instructions. Workers should have multiple skills that enable them to adjust to fluctuating work demands.


Overproduction happens when a product or component is manufactured before it’s required or requested. This often results in higher storage costs, hidden product defects, excessive capital expenditure, and excessive lead-time.

To avoid this, the rate of manufacturing between stations should be kept even. Setup times should be reduced to encourage single batches and single-piece flow. The amount of WIP should be monitored and controlled.


Over-processing waste includes doing more work than necessary, adding more components than needed, and having more steps in a product or service than required by the customer. It could also involve using equipment that’s too complex or powerful for its application, generating more or more detailed reports than necessary, or having an extraneous step in the workflow.

Often, the way to overcome over-processing in lean manufacturing is simple. It involves understanding work requirements from the perspective of the end customer. If a task or process doesn’t make sense in light of the customer’s ultimate needs or desires, it should usually be cut from the workflow.


Finally, the last of the original seven wastes includes product defects. These occur when a product is simply unfit for use, which results in scrapping or reworking product.

Common defects should be identified and targeted, and the process for developing the products or components should be investigated for the cause of the defects.

And there you have it — the original seven wastes of lean manufacturing engineering. When you want to streamline your business, contact Campbell Corp for more information.