Waste of Transport; causes, symptoms, examples, solutions


The waste of Transport

Transport is one of the seven wastes of lean manufacturing (muda), it is the movement of products from one location to another. This could be from the machining shop to the welding shop, or from the production facility in china to the assembly line in America. This transportation adds no value to the product, it does not transform it and the customer would not be happy in paying for it!
If you look at Toyota where the tools and techniques behind Lean Manufacturing have been refined as part of the Toyota Production System (TPS) you will see that many of their suppliers ate located close to their plants. Products are not shipped huge distances at great cost with the potential for delay and damage.


Seven wastes; Transport


Costs of the waste of Transport;


The waste of transport is a disease that causes the company to hemorrhage money at an alarming rate; you have to pay for material handling equipment, staff to operate it, training, safety precautions, extra space for the movement of material and so forth.
Transportation often leads to operations having to wait for product to be delivered due to delays (the waste of waiting), thus costing you more money as well as extending your lead times and creating delivery problems.
Excessive transport also gives many opportunities for handling damage and losses, I know of several cases where high value products have been damaged or lost, including generator sets that are the size of a 40 foot container and whole shipments of BMW cars that have gone down with the ship!

Causes of the Waste of Transportation.


There are many causes that contribute to the waste of transport, the main one being the waste of overproduction which in turn leads to the waste of inventory; inventory that then has to be transported throughout your facility or between factories and even continents. The causes of this overproduction can be everything from excessive setup times and the need for economic batch sizes to the fact that “that is the way we have always done it!”
In addition to overproduction our organizations layouts often lead to the need to transport product, we are often organized in functional silos, that is we have discreet areas for specific functions such as welding, pressing, molding etc. This leads to the need to transport product from each of these areas to the next and at times back again after each function is completed.
Even within each functional area we tend to leave excessive gaps between operations requiring the need to use things like pump trucks to move product about.

Examples of wastes of Transport


  • The transport of product from one functional area such as pressing, to another area such as welding.
  • The use of material handling devices to move batches of material from one machine to another within a work cell.
  • The shipment of product from one “functional” factory to another.
  • The transportation of “cheaper” components from one country to another.


How to eliminate or reduce Transportation

Layout should be changed as per the principles of lean manufacturing, create value streams and make that value flow at the pull of the customer. This requires you to have production lines or cells that contain all of the value adding processes rather than a functional layout. It also means reducing the spaces between those operations and avoiding the use of “super machines” by using small dedicated (often cheaper) machines instead. Improving factory layout through the use of value stream mapping and process mapping can give huge savings in time and money, often with little cost involved relative to the savings to be made.
With regard to the problems caused by the waste of overproduction follow this link to read about the ways to eliminate and reduce overproduction which will in turn reduce the amount of inventory in the system which will need to be transported.


Reduce and Eliminate the Seven Wastes to Improve Profit


Every cent that you save by eliminating waste within your processes is a cent straight back on your profits. By working to reducre your muda, mura and muri you will help prevent waste from occuring in your processes. Eliminate and reduce all of the seven wastes within your processes;



3 comments for “Waste of Transport; causes, symptoms, examples, solutions

  1. john kirk
    September 1, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Dear Sir
    Do you have any case studies for a multi modal logistics business?
    Concerning identifying and eliminating

    Moda mura and muri

  2. July 30, 2017 at 12:48 am

    My classmates and I had an argument that transportation isn’t a waste. Reason being if you’re a manufacture you sure had a proper plan before everything. I need some ideas please help

    • leanman
      August 2, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      Hi Matilda,
      Why manufacture something half way around the world and then transport it? Even if you are going to save on manpower costs you are adding significant inventory to the system and time. This will inevitably increase costs and reduce your flexibility. You could also argue that there is a significant impact on the environment.
      As to having a plan – why plan to create waste.

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