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By: Cristina Gia

Waste reduction is crucial to Lean strategy.

If carried out successfully, both productivity and quality will be improved and overall costs will be reduced.

What is waste? Waste can usually be defined as something which is unwanted, unnecessary to the overall process, and an inefficient use of resources. 

To put it simply, it is the exact opposite of value.

The eight categories wastes are: 

transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, over-processing, over-production, defects, and skills.

Not all waste should and can be handled in the same way.  There are two types of waste — activities that create no value but are necessary for operations to continue and pure waste with no value. For the former, successful waste reduction should take the form of simplification. For the latter, completely removing this waste should be a priority. 

How do we successfully remove waste? It depends on the type of waste, really, and what’s most suitable. Let’s examine an example


What exactly is the waste of over-production?

Over-production can include the unnecessary production of paperwork or information, producing paperwork or information before it is required, making too much, or making excess ‘just-in-case’ it will be needed.

This waste can easily be reduced or rectified: if the smallest amount needed for producing the required quantity is calculated first, there will be a reduction in excess and/or unnecessary materials for the task at hand.

How can we reduce waste, this New Year?

When committing to reducing waste, it can be helpful to consider the following questions:

    • Is the waste-object worthwhile to keep?  What is the cost of storage compared to the cost of replacement?
    • Will you ever use the waste-object again?
    • Can the waste-object be kept somewhere else? Should it be?
    • Should the waste-object be thrown out? What would happen if you did or did not?
    • Should the entire quantity of the waste-object be kept? Would you consider it to be too much? Should you reduce the amount?
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