Waste is any step or action in a process that is not required to complete a process successfully. When waste is removed, only the steps that are required to deliver a satisfactory product or service to the customer remain in the process. Customers would not be happy to pay for any action that we take that does not add value to what they actually want and nor should we be.
Identifying and Eliminating Waste
The purpose of Lean manufacturing is to find and eliminate muda, mura, and muri, in order to improve quality, safety, and efficiency. The best way to identify these types of waste are to understand what they are:
1. Muda – These activities don’t add value. They do not help your organization or your workers in any way. Overproduction, over processing, inventory, transportation, motion, waiting and defects. If you want to reduce costs, finding and eliminating muda is essential.
2. Mura – This type of waste is caused by the unevenness in services or production. When standards are non-existent or not followed, mura occurs. This shows up as variation, or times when work is overloaded, and other times when nothing is going on. The goal is to make the work more consistent and predictable as much as possible, so the resources can be properly aligned. This will also reduce the next type, Muri.
3. Muri – This is the result of processes that are excessively difficult or overburdening for employees. When there is a lack of training, no standards established, or they are trying to use the wrong tool for the job, Muri can occur. Think about a machine that is running all the time, and there is no time to stop and perform maintenance. Think about that employee who continually works overtime, and the stress of the job will end up making them sick, or they will quit. Neither the employee or the machine can continue at that pace, and when they break, things will get really bad. If you identify Muri in your process, it is recommended to work on those wastes first!
Muda, mura and muri can be eliminated or signifcantly reduced if you implement various lean tools and principles. Don’t just rush in to try and highlight and remove the muda in the hope of making a quick impression. Those changes will be short lived successes. Without tackling mura and muri, you will find muda returning to challenge you.
Using the 5s Tool for Success
One Lean tool that can help you eliminate these forms of waste is the 5S system. 5S helps to declutter, clean, and organize the workplace using the five S principles: sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain. It is a systematic and methodical approach allowing teams to organize their workplace in the safest and most efficient manner.