Eradicating Waste: The 7 Muda (+1 for the road)

Lean Waste 1: Transportation


Most evident in haulage and logistics industries, who suffer the higher cost of fuel, transportation of goods, transportation waste covers many different constraints, including but not limited to:

  • Time – delivery of goods to customers from centralised storage facilities always average longer distances than localised transport delivered that distance only once.
  • Space – the storage of all centralised stock requires more room than localised stock. In addition, depending on the premium of commercial floor space and business rates, or rather, the rateable business value, having one big place is more expensive to run than several smaller places.
  • Staff health and safety – Haulage staff have limits to the amount of driving they can do. Exceeding it is a hazard. Less time on the road, less health and safety issues, the less need to use contingency drivers the less money it costs.

Whilst central to retail and manufacturing, transportation is less of an issue external to companies. However, where meetings are essential, or you’re attempting to fight, not take advantage of Conway’s law, you may find yourself transporting staff across geographical offices, inside or outside the time zone. Even where expenses are paid, this only returns to you as a company what you would have paid in tax, not the whole amount. So it pays to save money there too.

Tip: Organise your teams cross functionally in any one geography. Collated teams.


Following my talk at Northern Change Facilitators on the 14th April 2016, as promised, the first in a series of blogs on the 7 Lean Wastes, which I am writing and publishing each day for the next 7 days. If you want to check out the session slides I used on Lean Enterprise experimentation, visit:

http://www.slideshare.net/EtharAlali/agile-games-60944230

Lean systems’ roots go back more than 70 years. Made famous by Toyota in the 1970’s and 80’s it’s the centrepiece of lean thinking in today’s world. It aims to improve quality, increase efficiency and efficacy, reduce waste and continuously improve (based on the principle of kaizen) when don’t well, it’s an extremely elegant solution. Get it wrong, and you dishearten forever. Needless to say, it’s benefits can be amazing, if you do it right.


Ethar Alali is Speaker, Analyst, CEO and Chief Engineer and Lean EA at Axelisys, specialising in providing innovative lean enterprise advice to blue-chips, inter-governmental organisations and SMEs. Connect on LinkedIn, follow on twitter.

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