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Waste Not Want Not: Determining Muda

muda lean six sigma

When we speak of Lean tools and techniques, we know that Lean focus is on waste reduction. This includes removal of any activity that is of no value in the business process that it takes to create that product or service. So, it is in that spirit that we will review the categories of Lean waste, or “Muda.”

Waste by any other name is just “Muda”…

  • Defects happen when the quality is not up to par. Some of the causes are substandard process control, or poor maintenance of machinery used. 
  • Overproduction, which translates to producing more than you need; having items taking up space leads to extra money being spent and valuable space being taken up.
  • Waiting, this could be a lengthy set-up time or unplanned maintenance downtime. Much of this could be avoided with regular maintenance checks and using Six Sigma for manufacturing for increased effectiveness in process control.
  • Non-Value Added, this is any activity that doesn’t add value to the actual product or service.
  • Transportation, which refers to actual transporting. This could be fixed with something as simple as coordinating deliveries according to locations or performing the process in one location instead of multiple locations.

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  • Inventory, when it is in excess it is recommended in Lean to switch to a demand-based fulfillment instead of trying to forecast the market or your customers.
  • Motion waste, which is referring to the actual movement that is considered wasteful. Imagine if you were about to make a delicious new dish and all the condiments that you needed were clear across the room! In addition to being annoying, that would be also considered motion waste. This doesn’t add any value to your product. So streamline the process and remove this waste.
  • Extra processing or over-processing happens when the staff is performing unnecessary processes or using incorrect tools for said job. Another activity that falls into this category is putting extra time and effort into things that won’t really add value to your product or service.

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