What is Transportation Waste?

Transportation Waste, Truck. This image is CC0!

When I commute I carry a large backpack with me: Laptop, power adapter, tablet, food for the day, letters, pens, two mobile phones, notes, sometimes a book or two. You name it, it is in there; we are talking about two to three kilograms. It is kind a of mobile inventory waste.

What I actually need most of the days: Laptop, phones, tablet. From time to time, I tidy up a little, but this waste is my weak spot.

Here are some more examples for transportation waste:

  • Climbing the stairs to bring stuff to the basement or to fetch it is transportation waste.
  • Ordering things online from different suppliers instead of one single source is transportation waste you pay for.
  • Shopping in the supermarket far away instead of the nearby grocery leads to transportation waste. Nevertheless, going to the supermarket may be better, because one stop shopping is better than driving through the city to many locations. Even if you do that because you have coupons from shop A, prefer vegetables from shop B, and there is a special offer at shop C: you create transportation waste, bringing all those things home. Besides, you are increasing motion waste.
  • When a company changes office locations, this will be transportation waste, because all the furniture, computers, and so on need to be transported. There may be good reasons for changing the location, for example, reduced cost for the new place. Often transportation is unavoidable.

By the way: did you know how tough the market for logistics companies is? Did you know that they have profit margins so low that they want to break out in tears? The reason is that logistic business is outsourcing of waste management. At least, if you look at it from a Lean point of view.

Transportation waste is easy to measure. There are three main ways to do it:

  • number, volume, or weight of items transported,
  • distance of transportation, and
  • duration of transportation.

Often it is enough to measure only one of those, but a combination may reveal more details.

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