Technician determining what is transportation waste vs motion waste
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What is Transportation Waste vs Motion Waste

It’s easy to get confused about the difference between what is transportation waste vs motion waste in lean manufacturing. While they are both part of the 8 wastes of lean manufacturing the sources of these wastes they are in fact completely different.  Before talking about how to eliminate these manufacturing wastes with a Front Line Worker platform, let’s first discuss what each of them means individually. Let’s begin with transportation waste or transport waste.


What is Transportation Waste?


In any manufacturing facility, transportation waste refers to transporting or movement of products, equipment, or raw material from one place to another. While transportation of goods is essential in any manufacturing process, excessive movement or unnecessary movement of goods contributes to transportation waste and reduces process efficiency. This waste can be detected through effective value stream mapping.


Excessive movement of products or materials can inflict damage causing product defects, as well as adding wasted time to the process. Similarly, unnecessary movement of people and manufacturing equipment can lead to exhaustion, wear and tear, and avoidable work. Here are some examples of waste in transportation:


  • Frequent movement of machinery between manufacturing facilities or sites
  • Excessive time spent searching for tools and equipment
  • Constant reassembling of products and equipment


Next, let’s look at motion waste in lean manufacturing.

What is Motion Waste?


In contrast with transportation waste, motion waste refers to the waste resulting from excessive or unnecessary movement of workers or employees within a facility or office space. While motion waste has similarities with transportation waste, it only refers to workers’ movement. For example, a poorly designed manufacturing facility can cause motion waste as workers have to frequently move around to complete their daily work.


Similarly, motion wastes occur when workers must frequently enter their supervisor’s office to get answers to their queries or seek approval. While transportation waste can lead to machine wear-and-tear and product defects, motion waste can cause workers’ exhaustion, thus, impacting their effective working time, quality of work and continuous flow.  Here are some examples of motion waste happening at a workplace:


  • Searching for vital information across multiple folders or computers
  • Physically searching for a crucial tool or component to complete an assigned job
  • Walking between work desks to communicate with other workers or to confirm receipt of emails sent to them
  • Searching for information on physical “paper” forms or documents
  • Copying information manually between different manufacturing applications


Next, let’s see how a Connected Worker Platform enables value stream mapping and reduces waste in lean manufacturing and helps in creating flow. Let’s begin with how a Front Line Worker platform can improve transportation waste.


How Connected Worker Platforms Can Reduce Transportation Waste?


Here is how a Connected or Front Line Worker Platform can reduce or eliminate waste of transportation in lean manufacturing:


  1. Reduce Travel Time Through Remote assistance

Transportation waste occurs when skilled machine experts or technicians need to travel to a remote manufacturing facility to resolve critical problems. Along with wasted travel time, this mode also incurs heavy travel-related expenses for organizations – while denying an immediate real time resolution to the problem.

With the use of Augmented Reality (AR) technology, a Connected Worker Platform enables remote assistance, where experts can remotely resolve problems occurring in any manufacturing site immediately using digital technology. This helps by removing the waste of transportation.


  1. Less supervision, more independent work

Connected Worker platforms provide visual and easy-to-follow instructions to front line workers in the form of visual diagrams, videos, and high-quality images. Step specific instructions embedded into the workflow mean that even inexperienced workers do not need the same level of supervision or guidance from their seniors. This gives them an advantage over other forms of continuous improvement software.

Transportation wastes are reduced when supervisors no longer need to move around unnecessarily to assign or manage their workers. This helps eliminate waiting waste and waste of transportation.


Next, let’s see how a Connected Worker Platform reduces motion waste or waste of motion.


How Connected Worker Platforms Can Reduce Motion Waste?


Here are 4 ways in which Connected or Front Line Worker Platform can reduce or eliminate motion waste in lean manufacturing:


  1. Search training material easily

With a digital training platform, connected workers no longer have to physically go through training material in their paper filled three ring binders. Now they can save valuable time previously spent searching for the right instructions and this reduces motion waste. Connected worker platforms ensure that workers always have immediate access to information where and when they need it during process steps.


  1. Discover inefficient processes

Inefficient or unoptimized manufacturing processes can cause motion waste. Connected Worker Platforms enable standardized workflows for each worker assigned to each job. This improves the quality of work execution and allows for the easy discovery of deviations and inefficient process steps. This allows for the removal of motion waste.


  1. Automate job report generation

With manual or paper-based processes, workers have to move around to fill their completed job reports at the end of every day. This is  a waste of the worker’s time and energy and denies management real time operations data. Connected Worker Platforms automate the completed job report generation process and store the job-related data in a decentralized repository for easy access. A Connected Worker Platform such as Adhere can also be integrated into a legacy system or ERP solutions.


  1. Automate job assignment

Transportation and motion waste also occurs when supervisors or floor managers need to physically assemble Front Line workers and assign their daily jobs. A Connected Worker Platform can eliminate these wastes by automatically assigning jobs with the right instruction to the right worker.



We examined the crucial difference between what is transportation waste vs motion waste and looked at how both wastes can be eliminated with a Front Line Worker or Connected Worker Platform. By looking at transportation vs motion waste we were able to separate out that transportation waste is the waste caused by the movement of materials and machines and motion waste is inefficiency caused by improper motion of workers.

Today, companies must look to reduce their transportation and motion wastes to improve the efficiency and productivity of their production process to meet supply chain disruptions, skilled worker shortages and increased competition.

With the Adhere Front Line Worker Platform, manufacturing companies are better positioned to minimize or eliminate the eight wastes of lean manufacturing. Ready to explore how Adhere can help your operations?  Book a free demo today.

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