Eliminate the Waste of Motion

Posted by on May 7, 2011 in Lean | 0 comments

Motion waste differs from transportation waste in that it deals with the waste within a single task, i.e., the movement of individuals that is unnecessary for successfully completing a job in a process.  For instance, if my job is to repair a piece of equipment, I might first inspect it to determine what tools I need to fix it, then go get those tools, take the machine apart, determine the part(s) I need, go get them, and finally make sure the machine is fixed.  Waste of motion is created by going and getting the tools and parts to fix the machine.
The waste of motion is defined as any movement that does not add value to the process.  This includes walking, bending, lifting, and reaching.
Motion waste often results from flaws in workplace design and occurs when there is physical distance between adjacent process steps.
In an office environment, movement is the waste created by unnecessarily juggling activities and paperwork and looking for files, documents, etc.  In a healthcare setting it includes staff spending time looking for patient’s charts, medicines, missing meds, missing charts, sharing of equipment and so on.
Some other examples include:
  • Customer service representatives walking to get brochures and forms in a financial services branch
  • Multiple visits by salespeople to get the right documents from customers
  • Scattered departments in an organization
  • Walking to/from an office copier, central filing, fax machine while performing a task.
  • Traveling across countries or continents for meetings

Suggestions for eliminating the waste of motion include:
  • Minimize the amount of moving, walking, or other forms of transport.  For example, keep work-related materials within reach, and group together materials, equipment, and people at the workstation.
  • Keep paper hard copies to a minimum.
  • Locate tasks next to each other whenever possible.
  • Become more organized.  Organize the workplace or office area using the 5S process, a place for everything and everything in its place.

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