One of the fundamental concepts of lean and business improvement activities is the identification of what steps add value and the removal of those that don’t. Removing waste can not only help increase the profitability of the business (through removing inefficiencies) but also facilitate customer satisfaction as the emphasis on production is the customer requirement.

Being able to identify waste, therefore, is a crucial activity in improving processes – the concept of seven wastes originated in Toyota as part of their production system but is applicable to most industries and service sector organizations

The seven wastes are:

Defects – errors during the production process which may result in rework
Transportation – Movement of goods within a process
Overproduction – producing more than is required
Inventory – any materials not used during manufacture
Waiting – lead time between process steps
Motion – excessive motion during the process
Over processing – Steps occurring in the production process which don’t add value

Where businesses attempt to become lean, their first step should be to identify the above and where possible remove them – the resultant impact can have dramatic affect to both performance and operating costs.

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