Reducing Transporting waste in Lean Office

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Sep 02, 2022
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* Reducing Transporting waste in Lean Office

“The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize.”

Shigeo Shingo

According to Taiichi Ohno, the father of lean and one of the forerunners of Lean Manufacturing and was part of the team that developed the Toyota Production System, one of the first steps to becoming lean is to eliminate waste in a process. In 1988, he defined seven types of Muda. An eighth Muda was added later on.  


In the traditional office setting, Transportation Excess was used to represent the movement of information and people. Nowadays, with hyperconnected digital offices, most information is sent over email, shared through a cloud service, or uploaded company server. This means that transportation waste still occurs but occurs digitally making it more difficult to detect.  


The Muda of transportation in the office is any unnecessary movement between stages of a process. This means when looking at the life cycle of a task, any movement from one state to the other is transportation. Let’s take a report approval for instance. A report is firstly written, then sent for proofreading, and then sent for approval before publishing. The movement of the report between each employee or stage represents a trip of the product. So, this means the more people included in the process of the editing, proofreading, and final approval the longer the report will be in transit.

The Muda of Transportation Excess in the office can take (but is not limited to) any of the following forms:

  • Unnecessary movement of paperwork, boxes, equipment
  • Moving products in and out of storage
  • Going back and forth to meeting rooms
  • Multiple handoffs of electronic data through the various departments
  • Multiple approval levels
  • Bad area/department layout
  • Excessive filing of documents
  • Excessive email attachments
  • Distributing unnecessary cc copies to people who don’t need to be in the loop

To eliminate the Muda of Transportation when carrying on a task, start by asking: Is this step necessary? Signing documents, reports, cc in emails – could any of these steps be made more efficient, eliminated, or even automated? If the act of transporting the item in question does not contribute to its advancement or add any value to it, then this means this step can be eliminated.

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