Transportation waste is the unnecessary movement of manufacturing resources outside of the area where production occurs. Examples of these resources include raw materials, finished parts, material handling equipment, tools, and employees. Not all transportation is waste, but unnecessary movement adds expense and risk without adding value. Because customers won’t pay for things that don’t add value, manufacturing waste can hurt your company’s competitiveness and profitability.

Transportation vs. Motion as Forms of Waste

As the overview to this series explained, transportation is one of eight forms of manufacturing waste. It’s not the same as motion, which is separate but similar. Again, transportation occurs beyond where production actually occurs. By contrast, wasted motion is unnecessary movement within a workspace. To appreciate the difference, imagine an assembly line in a factory. Wasted motion happens right on the assembly line. Wasted transportation happens between receiving or inventory and the assembly line.

Examples of Transport Waste

Transportation waste, or transport waste, occurs when resources are moved further than is necessary for the completion of a manufacturing process. With forklifts and pallet jacks, for example, this movement causes added wear and tear on the equipment. Forklifts that are powered by internal combustion engines also need fuel, which comes at a cost. Pallet jacks that are pulled require human labor instead. Unnecessary transportation increases the risk of worker injury and potential damage to in-transit goods.   

Employers would pay their forklift drivers and pallet jack pullers anyway, but there’s an opportunity cost since these workers can’t engage in other, productive activities. As the introduction to this series explained, transporting a product doesn’t add value to it. Manufacturers need material handling personnel and equipment, but it’s important to use these resources efficiently. A resource that’s navigating the factory floor isn’t just moving around. That resource is also adding costs to the operation.   

Transportation waste takes many other forms as well. Here are some examples.

  • Sending unused parts from the assembly line back to the warehouse.
  • Ordering parts from distant vendors when closer suppliers are available.
  • Moving skilled workers from one work location to another instead of bringing the work to them.
  • Moving tools or equipment from one work area to another.

As you can see, wasted transportation takes many forms and adds costs without increasing value.

Causes of Transportation Waste

The causes of transportation waste are numerous, but there are three common culprits in manufacturing.

  • Logistics
  • Trip Planning
  • Plant Layout

Logistics is about managing the flow of goods between the point of origin and the point of consumption. It includes the movement of goods across your supply chain and within your own facilities. A supply chain that’s too long extends delivery times and increases shipping costs. A material handling route that’s too long wastes time moving goods from receiving to inventory, or from inventory to production. Waste can also occur when goods are moved from warehouses to intermediate locations instead of to the point-of-production.  

Poor trip planning and poor plant layouts are also problematic for manufacturers. For example, an employee may be sent from one location to another without the right tools or materials. An extra trip to the tool crib or a materials store is then necessary. The employee may also stop to visit with co-workers along the way. With poor plant layouts, products move from one end of the factory to another or along winding routes. The most efficient way to move goods is in a line, preferably from one nearby workspace to another.    

Find Solutions to Transportation Waste in Manufacturing

Does your company buy industrial rubber and plastic products? Elasto Proxy can help you to find solutions that reduce transportation waste. If you’d like to shorten your supply chain, ask us about how our warehouses are located across North America and Europe near major transportation corridors. Our solutions providers can also share examples of how, from custom fabrication to kitting, our added-value products are helping manufacturers to reduce transportation waste within their own facilities.

To get started with greater efficiency, contact us.

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