Motion Waste

1. 3. 2018

Wastes, which can be classified into various types, all have certain characteristics in common, including their negative impact on profitability, flexibility, and productivity. Although waste may not always be obvious, it is easier to minimize or remove its components.

The lean approach for the elimination of waste, as described by Ohno (1988), is as follows: “All we are doing is looking at the time line, from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point when we collect cash. And we are reducing that time line by removing the non-value-added wastes” (p. 9). The definition of waste as well as its classification has been approached by various researchers. In general, researchers have commonly included defects and excess processing as some of the more common factors considered as waste (Senaratne & Wijesiri, 2008). Additionally, other factors have been mentioned in specific industries to broaden this classification. For instance, researchers have suggested “a broader definition of waste to include not only material waste, but also waste generated in a construction project such as waiting times, transportation times…” (Hosseini, Nikakhtar, Wong, & Zavichi, 2012, p. 415). The lean approach towards construction adopts both physical and non-physical waste production. On the basis of the existing literature, waste in the context of construction can be classified into eight types, namely defects, overproduction, waiting, not-utilizing talent, transportation, inventory excess, motion waste, and excess processing.

Motion requires energy and time. Therefore, there is a need for reducing the motion that does not provide value during the production process, which includes moving to bring raw materials to production cells and moving to bring tools (Hicks, 2007). A motion is considered to be adding value when it is a part of the process and has a direct influence on the product in terms of its value to the customer. As waste refers to processes that do not add value to the organization, motion that does not add value is considered waste.

Motion waste may have consequences for an organization that may be either direct or indirect. Motion waste decreases the efficiency of production. As unnecessary time spent in motion, such as for the purpose of retrieval, search, and lifting, does not contribute to necessary production tasks, resulting in lower efficiency (Modi & Thakkar, 2014). Indirectly, motion excess can cause physical harm to the employees over long period of time, resulting in absenteeism or lower productivity (Ohno, 1988). Both human and machine labor may be affected by unnecessary motion in long term in the form of reduced productivity.

Researchers have noted a number of causes that lead to motion waste. Most important of these include ill-arranged space, lack of space, production cell layout, placement of products in production processes, and disorganized tools (Bhamu & Sangwan, 2014; El-Namrouty, 2013). Additionally, employee method of work may also cause motion excess. For instance, employee method of work that involves constant rearrangement of products and turning may cause excessive motion. Further, the way products are design can also influence motion waste.

Researchers note that it is not possible to eliminate all motion waste; however, organizations can work to minimize motion waste. Motion waste can be reduced by adopting the lean principle in developing workplaces, operation procedures, and processes (Modi & Thakkar, 2014; Senaratne & Wijesiri, 2008). Minimizing waste involves targeting many factors, including guidance on motions of hand during the process of assembly, machine selection, fixture design, and material handling.  Due to its significance as a waste, researchers recommend organizations to make equally significant efforts to eliminate motion waste from the production process to enhance employee efficiency and increase effortlessness of the production process (Naylor, Naim, & Berry, 1999). Although motion is not production, it results in financial and temporal costs, which can be eliminated by the adoption of lean principles.

In the lean principle of manufacturing, minimizing motion is aimed at decreasing overburden and enhancing efficiency (Gupta & Jain, 2013). These steps benefit not only the employee through lower physical burden but also the organization via higher productivity and efficiency. Further, the lean principle also involves the removal of motion waste through the review of all steps involved in the production operation and the different wastes (Jasti & Kodali, 2014). Changes suggested in the lean principle on reducing motion excess can result in the increase of safety and production at work. Further, higher safety may result in lower financial damage resulting from patient injury. The development of standard operating procedures is a part of the lean principle strategies for reducing motion waste (Lacerda, Xambre, & Alvelos, 2015). Additionally, improvement in the setup process in production can result in the reduction of setups required for the performance of various production processes, reducing the motion waste as well as time required for such processes.

Author: Henri Suissa


Ben Naylor, J., Naim, M., & Berry, D. (1999). Leagility: Integrating the lean and agile manufacturing paradigms in the total supply chain. International Journal Of Production Economics62(1-2), 107-118.

Bhamu, J., & Singh Sangwan, K. (2014). Lean manufacturing: literature review and research issues. International Journal Of Operations & Production Management34(7), 876-940.

El-Namrouty, K. (2013). Seven Wastes Elimination Targeted by Lean Manufacturing Case Study ″Gaza Strip Manufacturing Firms″. International Journal Of Economics, Finance And Management Sciences1(2), 68.

Forsberg, A., & Saukkoriipi, L. (2007). Measurement of waste and productivity in relation to lean thinking. In Proceedings IGLC-15. Michigan.

Gupta, S., & Jain, S. (2013). A literature review of lean manufacturing. International Journal Of Management Science And Engineering Management8(4), 241-249.

Hicks, B. (2007). Lean information management: Understanding and eliminating waste. International Journal Of Information Management27(4), 233-249.

Hosseini, S., Nikakhtar, A., Wong, K. and Zavichi, A. (2012). Implementing Lean Construction Theory into Construction Processes' Waste Management. ICSDC 2011.

Ohno, T. (1988). Toyota production system. London: CRC Press, p.9.

Jimmerson, C., Weber, D., & Sobek, D. (2005). Reducing Waste and Errors: Piloting Lean Principles at Intermountain Healthcare. The Joint Commission Journal On Quality And Patient Safety31(5), 249-257.

Jones, D., & Womack, J. (2014). Lean thinking. United States: Free Press.

Lacerda, A., Xambre, A., & Alvelos, H. (2015). Applying Value Stream Mapping to eliminate waste: a case study of an original equipment manufacturer for the automotive industry. International Journal Of Production Research54(6), 1708-1720.

Mezgebe, T., Asgedom, H., & Desta, A. (2013). Economic Analysis of Lean Wastes: Case Studies of Textile and Garment Industries in Ethiopia. International Journal Of Academic Research In Business And Social Sciences3(8).

Modi, D., & Thakkar, H. (2014). Lean thinking: Reduction of waste, lead time, cost through lean manufacturing tools and technique. International Journal Of Emerging Technology And Advanced Engineering4(3), 339-344.

Senaratne, S., & Wijesiri, D. (2008). Lean construction as a strategic option : Testing its suitability and acceptability in Sri Lanka. Construction Management and Economics2008, 34-48.

Vamsi Krishna Jasti, N., & Kodali, R. (2014). A literature review of empirical research methodology in lean manufacturing. International Journal Of Operations & Production Management34(8), 1080-1122.

Application for study

Interactive online: