7 Forms of Waste: An Introduction

7 Forms of Waste and how they apply to greenhouse operations


The 7 Forms of Waste is a key concept of Lean Maintenance that works to optimize resources and reduce costs. Over the next several weeks, we will take a deep dive into each form of waste in the context of industrial greenhouse operations, complete with case studies.

Lean Maintenance

Lean Maintenance is derived from the Toyota Production System, developed in the late 1940s. It is the philosophy of eliminating waste (in the form of time, inventory, supplies, and more) to create more efficient work processes. This reduces deviation from production because quality is built directly into the system.


A division of Lean Maintenance that can be specifically applied to any CEA space is 5S – Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize, Sustain. 5S can be used to organize and clean-up factory processes, create accountability, and provide a place for everything. Further, it can be used as a system to eliminate each of the 7 forms of waste commonly found in manufacturing facilities.

Consider this quote taken from our APIS Maintenance website:

5S provides a basis for a level of organization in stockrooms which permits parts to be available as needed via rows, sections, shelves, and bins all laid out in a logical, predictable sequence in a clean and stable environment.”

5S is an integral part of Lean Maintenance that can be applied to any CEA facility and works as a problem-solving tool that can be used to eliminate waste.

7 Forms of Waste
  1. Overproduction Performing preventive maintenance schedules too frequently.
  2. Excess Motion Making multiple trips back and forth to the maintenance area for tools, parts, and manuals can add considerable time to the repair.
  3. Waiting For example: waiting for parts that are not in stock to arrive, waiting for access to areas that are in production, and waiting for assistance to perform work that is unfamiliar.
  4. Transportation Being able to locate a spare in a breakdown, especially a large and heavy one like a motor will eliminate time and travel retrieving it.
  5. Over Processing Having tasks in a preventative schedule that have no value.
  6. Excess Inventory Not having the parts you need to make a repair is frustrating; having a lot of parts that never move in your inventory is even worse.
  7. Defects Often work performed incorrectly can result in even larger repairs and cost. Missed inspection items, incorrect installation of parts, and other similar instances can all contribute to this.


Follow along with the series to learn more about each form of waste and to read real experiences from LGC experts in the field.