What are the 7 MUDA (7 WASTES)?

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The main factors of efficiency within a productive system are focused on the 7 MUDA, one of the lean management concepts applicable to any type of organization, either manufacturing or services.

MUDA is a Japanese word meaning waste, a concept introduced by Taiichi Ohno, Toyota engineer and author of the just in time Toyota Production System.

The 7 Muda focuses on the elimination of waste. It is necessary to identify within any process:

  • the added value activities, as crucial activities, to perform a process and produce one unit of production.
  • the non-added value activities, which are activities performed within your workplace and doesn’t add value to your product. The customer doesn’t pay for this activity and has to be eliminated or at least reduced.
  • the semi-added value activities

It’s important to remark that all of these activities involve cost, whereas the added value activity are costs that add value the others contribute to losses and have to be attacked till their elimination (or reduction).

  1. Transport

The movement of a product or raw material from one location to another that doesn’t add value.Transport costs money, equipment, fuel, and labor, and also increases delivery times. Some examples:

  • Poor plant, warehouse layout.
  • Large production batches or poor
  • Long lead times and large storage areas.
  • Lack of or poor transport plan

Possible solutions

  • Introduce a transport plan
  • Review batch sizes and product flexibility
  • Improve your layout design.
  1. Inventory

There’s an inventory excess when your materials, spare parts, product or semi-finished products are stored in your warehouse or in your semi-finished storage without any usage in the short term. Instead of using your economic resources in another type of investment, they are spent in the form of materials. On the other hands, not using your items soon may incur in obsolescence, defects, degradation or expired/rotten items, amongst other quality defects. Some examples:

  • High quantities purchases
  • Uneven production line balance
  • Creation of buffer areas “just in case”
  • Poor Inventory accountability
  • Large production batches
  • Lack of  logistics flexibility

Possible solutions

  • Optimize inventories (raw material, semi-finished or finished products)
  • Reduce batch sizes and increase product flexibility
  • Balance the manufacturing process.
  1. Motion

Unnecessary movement within your supply chain (workers, raw material, semi-finished product, finished product, documentation, etc. to perform a process. Some examples:

  • Poor layout design, excessive distances
  • Machinery with poor maintenance
  • Lack of suitable tools or it is not in place.
  • Continuous relocation of products or machinery
  • Lack of space

Possible solutions

  • Introduce a 5S program
  • Redefine your layout
  • Increased machinery maintenance
  • Optimize your inventory levels.
  1. Waiting

The waiting time involves breaking the process flow within your organization. It results in idle time either for the personnel, department, machinery or both. Some examples:

  • Machinery is waiting for semi-finished product or personnel
  • Personnel is waiting for management decision or machinery
  • A production line is waiting for a raw material arrival
  • An area or personnel are waiting for production orders.

Possible solutions

  • Improve the flow of communication
  • Implement a Man- Machine analysis
  • make the production flow even
  1. Over-processing

When using machinery in poor conditions or performing unnecessary activities in your workplace. Usually, there are inappropriate techniques, poor product tolerances or lack of training. Some examples:

  • Lack of procedures
  • Lack of training
  • inadequate tools or machinery
  • Poor maintenance

Possible solutions

  • Provide continuous training to your team
  • Promote leadership and teamwork
  • Implement a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
  • Implement a TPM program
  1. Overproduction

Excess of production not adjusted to the demands.

Based on the Just in case principle you produce in excess or too early. It can be uneven and/or oversized batches along your production process. This type of waste produces too much or too early and leads to high levels of inventory.

Possible solutions

  • Adjust the production volumes to your demand.
  • Balance your batch sizes within your manufacturing system
  • Apply Just in Time (JIT) program.
  1. Defects

There are amounts of products with poor quality, products out of specifications. Production defects involve machinery, material, labor and time waste. The more activities are performed to get a poor quality product, the higher the cost. On the other hand, it can cause product claims or rejections from customers. Some examples:

  • Lack of adequate product specification
  • Product/process variability
  • Inadequate manufacturing methodology
  • Inadequate storage, packaging or transport methodology

Possible solutions

  • Implement a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
  • Implement a Six Sigma program
  • Introduce teamwork

Eliminating the Seven Wastes

Eliminating the seven wastes can be done through the implementation of a Kaizen program implementation. Once your team recognizes the product value-added, they will be able to identify the major losses, find the root causes and solve the problem until dissolving or at least reducing the amount of waste.


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