no waste

returnOver Transporting

waste7Over transporting is the often unnecessary movement of things. Put simply, if you move things, someone will need to handle it. Conventional wisdom tell us the more handling there is, the more likely something will go wrong. We run a greater chance of dropping it, losing it, damaging it and probably delivering it to the wrong person/ place. Whether this is urban myth or not is not the issue here, instead we want to eliminate this waste of effort, time, money and resources.

Often things are moved back and forth because the workplace is poorly designed. The store room is sited a long way from the loading bay, or to get something signed (manually, not e-signatures) means documents going back and forth, and sometimes it is about storing semi-finished products.

Although the increasing use of electronic documents have eliminate a large amount of document over transporting, time is still spent storing and retrieving documents from poorly designed databases. The main problem of over transporting is in the design of the workplace and the design of processes. Usually, we go to our work everyday and deal with these problems day in and day out without noticing them. One hospital told me: "... for some reason, we store our patient files upstairs, so we are walking up and down the stairs many times every day retrieving and returning files... until we walked our process, we didn't realise this is what we are doing... "

Most over transporting take place over a short distance and it may seem like a minor issue but like many other wastes, they add up. The way to address this is simply "walking a process" - following a process physically and not on a flowchart. Often process maps and flowcharts only list the logical and sensible steps, and not the workarounds we introduce to deal with a problem and it is therefore likely you will soon encounter over transporting in your processes.

Since the workplace is dynamic and always changing, the realistic way to reduce over transporting is by good planning and more importantly, regular (and diligent) monitoring and walking the process.


This waste is part of the classic Toyota 7 Wastes, which formed the foundations of Lean Operations. Toyota believes that these 7 wastes are the reason why we have physical wastes. However, as these were originally developed for large scale manufacturing, we explored what these wastes mean in a generic sense and have changed some of the emphasis so that they can be readily applied to other business areas.