Any activity that consumes resources but creates no value for the customer is a waste. Most of what a business does is waste - typically 85 - 90% of its activity.
Waste falls into two categories: avoidable waste and unavoidable or necessary waste.
Avoidable waste should be eliminated immediately. For example, where sequential processes are physically separated there is a transportation waste between them and possibly an inventory waste too. By placing the processes adjacent to each other, these wastes can be eliminated.
Unavoidable wastes are necessary but add no value. One example would be the inspection of welds to make sure they are safe. In these cases ways should be sought to minimise the disruption to the flow caused by the unavoidable waste e.g. by automating the inspection.
You can use the buttons below or the main menu to access descriptions of the waste types found in manufacturing, service and office environments.