Motion Waste - Can You Minimize it in Your Area?

By Penny Macias | May 14, 2015

In the LEAN/Six Sigma curriculum, there are eight types of waste that exist in business, which include: overproduction, human potential, transport, extra processing, inventory, motion, defects, and waiting. Motion waste occurs when humans or machines must take extra steps due to inefficient design/layout or from issues in the process. 

Take a look around your work space. Are there things you need to do your job that aren't within arm's reach? Are there supplies you use regularly that are tucked away and should be more accessible? Do you have to travel long distances to communicate with team members to get a project done? These are all examples of motion waste.

All of these might add seconds or minutes, or in the extreme case, days, to the time it takes you to complete your job or tasks for a project. If you have 10 minutes every day that goes to motion waste, that adds up to 50 minutes a week and 200 minutes a month (3.33 hours). If you feel like you don't have enough manpower to handle demand and there isn't enough money to hire someone extra, you'd probably jump at the idea of three extra hours every month to get the job done.

With LEAN/Six Sigma there are a variety of tools to eliminate motion waste. One example is a 5S event. As the name implies, there are five phases: (1) Sort, (2) Set in Order, (3) Shine, (4) Standardize, and (5) Sustain

  1. Sort Phase - Go through the work space to determine what is in the area that is necessary to the work being done. If something is not necessary, tag it and make sure it gets to its proper place.
  2. Set in Order Phase - Organize the current location to make an optimal layout for the work being done. Then arrange and store items close to where they are used with the overall flow in mind. Drawing a diagram of the space in its current state and a future state can be very helpful.
  3. Shine Phase - Ensure the machinery and space needed is clean. While cleaning, inspect the equipment for safety.
  4. Standardize Phase - Make certain the order you've created is clear to everyone who comes into the space. Make the practices habitual.
  5. Sustain Phase - Be sure the improvements are long lasting. Regularly schedule check-ups to see how you're maintaining the improvements. Communicate the benefits of doing things the new way, recognize and reward those who excel and continue to look for improvements. Make continuous improvement a part of your team culture.

This is a really brief overview of how to reduce motion waste in your work area. If you would like more information on how to get started or help with any of these phases let me know. The MAAP is here to help you on the way.