8 Forms of Waste

Breaking Down the 8 Forms of Waste: Motion

Learning about the 8 Forms of Waste on a jobsite is an important step in your Lean journey. If you’re not familiar with the 8 Forms of Waste, let’s start with the basics. Waste is defined as any task that doesn’t add value. Unfortunately, on construction projects many of the activities performed are non-value added—or waste. The first step to overcoming waste that will plague your jobsite is being able to recognize and identify the 8 Forms of Waste so you can begin the work of eliminating them. There are several acronyms to remember what these wastes are. The one we used in our book, The Lean Builder, is DOWNTIME.


DOWNTIME stands for:

  1. Defects
  2. Overproduction
  3. Waiting
  4. Non-Utilized Talent
  5. Transportation
  6. Inventory
  7. Motion
  8. Excess

To learn more about all the wastes, see Eight Wastes of Lean on the Jobsite.

In this post, we are going to discuss the waste Motion and how you can be on the lookout to eliminate this waste when it creeps up on your projects.

The waste of Motion involves movement by craftsman. Even what seems like a small, non-value-added motion can cost your project time and money. To move and add value is called work. To move and not add value is called motion.

What Motion waste looks like on the jobsite

If you have ever noticed craftsman spending a bunch of time looking for a tool in a messy job box, or worse having to walk a long distance to their job box because it’s not close to where they are putting in work, then you are watching the motion waste in action. Even a poorly placed port-a-john on a jobsite that makes people have to walk longer distances to use the restroom is a non-value task to the production of the project.

Why Motion waste is bad for your jobsite

The waste of motion on your project can cause a number of issues that may (or may not) be immediately obvious. Even if it is marginal, you will experience a lowering of workforce efficiency, because your trade partners are spending incremental time walking, searching, lifting, and retrieving, rather than putting work in place. The most dangerous motion waste can happen when a craftsman needs to turn, reach, bend or stretch in a way that is out of their comfort zone to put work in place. Motion waste is present on construction sites every day, and the detrimental impacts affect worker health, jobsite morale, efficiency, cost, etc. As a Lean builder, you need to develop a habit of looking for motion waste on your jobsites; watch for motion that may cause discomfort, and look for ways to empower the trades to find more efficient ways to put work in place.

How to get rid of Motion waste on your jobsite

Unfortunately, there will always be some form of motion waste on a jobsite. Your goal is to reduce it as much as possible. The simplest way to do this is by the implementation of 5S. Remember that messy job box that was causing a lot of extra movement in order to find the right tool? By sorting, straightening, and standardizing this motion, motion waste can be significantly shortened. Also, think about your site utilization plan. From your trailer location, construction worker parking, port-a-john and dumpster locations, have you thought through the motion waste involved in people moving from place to place around the jobsite? If not, there could be opportunities for major improvements.

Identify Motion Waste

Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years to help teams learn to identify the motion waste:

  1. Look for it – Morning huddles and toolbox discussions are ripe opportunities to teach last planners about motion waste. Encourage your foreman and boots on the ground to come to the daily huddle meeting ready to talk about motion wastes they have identified and if or how they were able to resolve it.
  2. Be accountable for it – As in most cases in the field, visual communication is key. Try making an Eight Wastes board and display it in the job trailer or jobsite for yourself and/or your trade partners and field leaders to see on a continuous basis. When items come up, add a person’s name who is responsible for removing or reducing the waste. The more your trades are empowered and held accountable for waste reduction, the more efficient your jobsite will become.
  3. Eliminate it. Waste can suck the life and morale out of a jobsite culture. It’s disrespectful and will consume valuable resources that would be better utilized in an effective and productive manner. As LCI puts it, “Waste is the enemy of good construction.” Make it your personal mission to be relentless against the wastes that you see on your jobsite, even if you’re not the CM/GC. Control what you can control—others WILL recognize it and behaviors WILL

If you have a good tip you would like to share on how to learn to see waste or would like to share an Eight Wastes of Lean story from one of your projects, please let us know in the comments below!

Keyan Zandy is a longtime Lean practitioner, enthusiast, and advocate. As Skiles Group’s COO, he has a dual focus on client service and on nurturing a progressive company culture. He is ultimately responsible for the oversight of the firm’s daily operations and ensuring that their Lean processes are continuously improved and consistently practiced. He is the co-author of The Lean Builder: A Builder’s Guide to Applying Lean Tools in the Field, which simplifies and clearly articulates the benefits of seven primary Lean concepts, and delivers them in a highly-relatable, immediately-applicable, and field-friendly manner. Keyan also serves as CEO for Smart Safety, an award-winning crisis management communication and emergency response tool.

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