Waste walk is a lean tool used to reduce waste, the focus is to identify and reduce waste in processes and work areas.

Definition of Waste

Before going into details on the waste walk and how to conduct it, let’s first define what waste is to understand what we will be looking for.
Initially there were 7 types of waste defined in lean. A way to better remember them is by using the acronym TIM WOODS, which is spelled by the first letter of each type of waste.

  • Transportation
  • Inventory
  • Motion
  • Waiting
  • Overproduction
  • Overprocessing
  • Defects

Later an additional type of waste was added “Talent or Skills”. This refers to not using the full potential of the employee’s talent and skills.

Doing the Waste Walk

Now that the types of waste have been identified, it is time to go look for them.
Start with defining the area or process to review and find a timeslot in the calendar for the waste walk.
Watch the process and see if there is excess inventory, material or people waiting, if there are defects generated from the process etc. Initially just observe the process, note down what is seen and discuss it within the team. Don’t go into fixing mode at this point in time.
A checklist can be used to make sure all of the 8 types of waste are being reviewed.

Generate the Action Plan

When all the data have been collected, sit down with your team to generate an action plan. It should include actions to address all issues identified during the waste walk, and include responsible person and implementation dates for each of them.

Waste Walk is one of the lean tools, if you found it interesting then our 5S Training might be of interest to you. It is usually the first step to take when starting out with lean, as it creates the foundation for further improvements to be implemented.

Alternatively you can continue to our Quality Training page to see some of the other types of training we provide.

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Waste Walk