Business | Lean Methodology

Eight Wastes Lean Six Sigma Aims to Eliminate – Part 2

Words by Alex Matheson
Eight Wastes Lean Six Sigma Aims to Eliminate – Part 2

Welcome back to our series of articles on lean! Last week we discussed the first four types of waste that Lean Six Sigma aims to eliminate. If you haven’t given that a read yet, head on over and read that article first. We’ve also taken a look at the origins of lean methodology and the emergence of Lean Six Sigma.

This week we’re going to take a look at the other four types of waste. Last week we talked about defects, overproduction, waiting, and non-utilised talent. This week we’re on to transportation, inventory, motion, and extra processing.


This is waste caused by things moving around, simple as that. Well, not really. To be accurate, it’s waste caused by things moving around more than they need to. That could be on-site, between facilities, or anywhere else.

In manufacturing terms, this could be an issue with factory layouts. Whether that’s inefficient plant design, mismanagement of logistics, anything that means the things within your organisation are moving more than they need to.

This can obviously result in, or be the result of, other waste types discussed already. Overproduction might be caused by a product not being where it needs to be fast enough. Transportation waste might come from defects not being spotted and getting shipped when they should be reworked.


Here again we have a type of waste that ties in with some of the others, but has its own distinct issues. Inventory waste is defined as any time inventory builds up unnecessarily. That might mean unused ingredients, half finished products or unsold wares.

Similar to the concepts behind overproduction, inventory waste can be the result of having systems that don’t accurately track your resources as well as the needs of your customers. If you don’t know how much product you need, it’s easy to create too much.

Simultaneously, if you don’t know how much product you have then you’re in an equal and opposite pickle. Perceived shortfalls in production might mean over stocking raw materials only to find out you’ve overproduced and either the products or raw materials will sit unused, existing only as wasted capital.


Similar to transportation waste, but more focused on the people within your organisation. Motion waste is all about ensuring your enterprise is organised in such a way that everyone involved is where they need to be when they need to be there.

Motion waste can, and often has, been the product of mismanagement. Over stuffing calendars with meetings and over stuffing meetings with every available body is one way the people in your organisation could be finding themselves out of their most productive positions.

Interestingly enough, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a global test case for how minimising motion can actually increase productivity. With meetings being shifted online, commuting being less necessary, and time between meetings increasing; productivity has improved in many cases.

Extra processing

While it feels like this waste type might overlap with overproduction, there’s an important distinction. Extra processing isn’t processing too much, but instead having processes that are over complicated.

This could mean multiple sign offs where one would do, poor communication resulting in extra communication, or consistent duplication of data. If the processes you adhere to have excess complexity, then you’re going to be producing waste.

This brings us back round to the idea of Just-in-Time production from the Toyota Production System. The processes you use to deliver value to your customers should do just that in as few steps as possible. This, ideally, will minimise extra processing in your processes.

How do you eliminate the 8 wastes?

Hopefully these latest two articles in our series on lean methodology have given you a good insight into what the 8 wastes are and how you might tackle them. Each one provides its own challenges and each one has specific means for eliminating them.

Beyond that, anyone aiming to eliminate the 8 wastes has to understand that there’s no one size fits all solution. Each business will have to tackle waste in ways that work for them and each business will also need to analyse and understand which wastes are the most detrimental at any one time.

For those wanting to take a holistic approach to minimising waste, we suggest giving Atlas Play a try. Atlas Play is award winning iBPM software that’s designed to give you complete control over your company’s processes.

Every process you map in Atlas Play can be integrated into existing systems. They can collect data and that data can be organised and turned into insight. You can make fact based decisions and eliminate overproduction, defects, and more.

Your processes can develop and grow as your business does. Automation can be achieved and the talent in your organisation can begin to find true utilisation, where it matters. Innovation can begin to occur everywhere.

The business solutions you create within our platform are always scalable and accessible. They grow with your business and give everyone the opportunity to engage in your digital transformation.

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