Top three LEAN waste in companies

LEAN manufacturing is about eliminating the most significant sources of waste within companies. Machines are an important source of waste. What LEAN waste occurs most frequently with machines? Based on our customer experiences, we’ve compiled a top three.

When a machine works 24/7 at top speed and only produces top-quality output, then the maximum production goal for that machine would be reached within one week. That’s a great goal. It’s not always the most realistic goal, but it helps in locating the biggest sources of waste within companies.

LEAN has a comprehensive approach to eliminate the most significant sources of waste. Let’s be clear on the biggest waste: many companies do not start improving. They know they can and should do better, but everyday issues or a lack of knowledge on improving prevent an actual start in improving.
Improving without LEAN leads to waste!

The main categories of LEAN machine waste

Let’s start by grouping possible LEAN machine waste into the following main categories:

  • Availability loss
  • Performance loss
  • Quality loss

You can generally improve by using this list. How often does a machine malfunction? How many items are produced? How many of those items are of good quality? The pitfall is usually the main focus on failures and technical issues. However, that doesn’t automatically show you the biggest waste.

Consider this example:
A machine malfunctions for 50 minutes per 24 hours. The result is a performance loss. However, if not enough material is supplied for the machine, then it doesn’t matter that a 50-minute halt per 24 hours occurs at the end of the line. The more substantial waste is the production line halting for two hours every day because of a shortage of material.

OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) takes a look at the underlying cause of the waste and the biggest improvement point. In this case, it’s not about fixing the machine but making sure that the logistics department knows immediately that raw materials are nearly depleted and need reordering soon.

Top three LEAN waste in companies

1 - Waiting for material or the wrong material.

Unnecessary material issues like these cause vast amounts of waste. An entire production line comes to a halt without material. The critical question is: why are people waiting? Was the order put in too late, did the supplier make an error or does the warehouse have issues? Find out what the underlying cause is, for example with a fishbone diagram, and find the real waste of materials.

2 - The wrong work instructions.

A significant cause for unpredictability in a process is the wrong work instruction. A machine has been configured, but the wrong ink was used. The line has gone through its changeover cycle without a release inspection.
Does a standard exist, was it followed and is it correct? An explicit and streamlined instruction is essential for a good labor process.

3 - Meetings.

Meetings are necessary, but they can also lead to a lot of waste. People join the conference too late and keep the rest waiting. The meeting isn’t limited to the agenda topics but more and more is added. An order can only be completed after a meeting takes place, scheduled in three weeks.

What waste occurs in your company, and more importantly, what will you do about it? With insight into waste and clear company targets an improvement team or an improvement consultant can get great results.

Please also read our blog “What waste occurs in your work process?”

Contact us if we can help you with any additional information or an online demonstration of Cierpa Software, we would be happy to help! 


Cierpa Software enables you to improve your organization continuously. LEAN manufacturing changes your work floor processes towards better and faster results and ultimately reduces any waste. With our LEAN software for companies, it’s possible to manage this ongoing process quickly and easily. Our Cierpa improvement consultants can also offer help.

Techniques and methods like 5S audit, Kaizen, OEE and the underlying LEAN thought principles are at the very core of our software suite. With Cierpa OEE, Cierpa Kaizen, Cierpa Quality, Cierpa Competence and Cierpa Assessment, Cierpa Software really speeds up all your improvement processes!

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Top three LEAN waste in companies