As noted in our previous blog, Tim Woods is not a person but rather an acronym that represents the eight wastes associated with lean manufacturing. The first waste of lean manufacturing, the “T” in Tim Woods is Transportation.

Transportation is the movement of products from one location to another. Goods can be transported from one end of the warehouse to the other or even from a production facility in China to an assembly line in the United States. A few examples of transportation waste include:

  • Transporting unsold products from retailers back to the warehouse
  • Ordering products from suppliers, instead of looking at local options
  • Moving equipment from one construction site to another

Transportation does not add value to a product and can often result in a loss of money and time. Transportation costs can account for 10% of the total cost of a product. Not only do you lose money on fuel, but delays in transportation can lead to a longer wait time and upset customer.

Contributing Causes to the Waste of Transport 

When organizations have to move products, equipment, inventory, or people further than what is necessary, you have transportation waste. One of the main causes of waste is overproduction, which, in turn, causes a waste of inventory.

The overproduction of inventory requires more effort to transport. Depending on the size of a shipment, it may not be able to ship all at once and require multiple vehicles to transport. Once the products reach their destination, it isn’t guaranteed that every item will be sold. If that is the case, the unsold products will have to be transported back to the warehouse. This leads to a waste of both gas and time.

When traveling unnecessary distances, you also run the risk of defects and damage to the products. If products are stacked and loaded incorrectly, packages on the pallet can shift out of place, making the entire pallet load unstable. All it takes is a sudden stop or an uneven road for packages to become crushed.

Organizations layouts can also be a key reason for transport waste. When processes like, welding, pressing, or molding are not close to each other, products need to be transported, whether it’s by hand, forklift, or truck.

Reducing Transportation Waste

While it’s difficult to control unpredictable causes like damages, you can control the route of transportation. The best way to reduce transportation waste is by ensuring deliveries are on the most direct and time-efficient route. Additionally, reducing the space between operations will allow you to create a layout that a focus on flow. When you can easily move parts from one process to an adjacent process, the distance traveled is minimal.

Stay tuned for next month’s blog where we will discuss the second waste of lean manufacturing; inventory.