What is the Waste of Motion?
In lean, motion refers to any movement of people. The waste of motion is any motion that occurs, which doesn’t add value to the product. Common examples of this in the workplace, include retrieving tools or equipment (including reaching for them), searching for missing information, and exerting effort to lift things from the ground. Any excess motion or effort more than what is required to add value to a product is considered waste.

Motion vs Transportation
Lean beginners often confuse transportation with motion. One way to remember the difference between them is to look to their first letters and think of “T” for “things” and “M” as “manpower”.

What Causes Motion?
Common causes of motion are the following:

  • Lack of standard work.

    Lack of documented and followed standards typically results in inconsistent execution. In some instances, the work may be performed extremely efficiently, but in most cases, performance variations will be extremely inefficient. Ultimately, all inefficient and excess motion is waste.

  • Poorly designed processes.

    Anytime a documented process leaves out vitally important steps, or is extremely inefficient, this can cause excess rework, and extra motion. Often, poor process design is the result of designing processes without the end user in mind.

  • Poor work or layout.

    Waste occurs anytime people are forced to move more than necessary to retrieve materials or access equipment.

  • Disorganization.

    Poor organization and clutter create the need for excessive searching and increase the odds of production mistakes resulting in wasted effort.

The Cost of Motion
Many lean experts consider motion the mother of unproductivity. To understand why this is true, consider disorganization again. A disorganized work area can easily waste 10% of the average worker’s time just in searching for things. That’s equivalent to roughly one minute every 10 minutes. Over the course of a 450-minute shift, that’s 45 minutes of wasted time and energy.

Furthermore, some studies show that 30% to 80% of manual work is motion. Now consider the potential negative impact of poorly designed processes or poor work area layout on productivity. This relationship is one major reason why setup reduction is almost always a major priority when manufacturers are first embarking on their lean journey.

Additionally, one common result of long changers is overproduction and large inventories. Because setups take so longer, when equipment is finally up and running, either supervisors or employees often attempt to run “a little” (or even lot) more, just-in-case.

Tools to Battle Motion
Similar to the other wastes, there are tools and strategies that can be used to combat the waste motion.

    1. 5S

      5S is a simple and powerful 5-step tool for achieving sustainable workplace organization while minimizing each of the lean wastes. These five steps consist of the following:

      1. Sort out the things that are no longer needed and eliminate them from the work area.

      2. Straighten up what’s left so that everything has a specific location

      3. Sweep to inspect. Ensure that inspecting workplace cleanliness is routine, and effortless by making compliance visual and intuitive.

      4. Sustain results through accountability tools and self-discipline.

    2. Time Observation Chart

      This is a tool that helps document every step to a particular process. This helps you track where motion was wasted which will also help you alleviate it.

      Time Observation Chart

      Time Observation Chart

    3. Workflow Analysis

      One powerful workflow analysis tool is the spaghetti diagram.This is a tool that helps document every step to a particular process. This helps you track where motion was wasted which will also help you alleviate it.

      Spaghetti diagram

      Spaghetti diagram

Many additional tools and strategies also exist that can be used to reduce the waste of motion. That said, these are a few of the most powerful. If you stick with 5S and workflow analysis, you’re well on the right track to reducing waste of motion as well as the other wastes.

Furthermore, following the 5 steps below can help ensure your success in reducing the waste of motion.

5 Step Recipe to Reduce Motion

      1. Get rid of what you don’t need (5S)

      2. Bring the things you need closer (point of use)

      3. Use both hands to work (utilize fixtures and jigs)

      4. Reduce the number of movements made (simplify)

      5. Make motions ergonomic (easier and safer)

Removing the amount of motion necessary in production is achievable. Little changes can achieve big results and eliminate this costly waste.