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In Lean construction, identifying and eliminating waste is crucial for achieving operational excellence. Here, we’ll explore the eight types of waste, how they impact construction projects, and provide actionable tips for reducing or eliminating them. 

The Eight Types of Waste

  1. Overproduction: Creating more of a product than needed. This leads to excess inventory and can result in defects, damage, or the need to move unnecessary materials.
  2. Excess Inventory: Holding more materials than necessary. This can cause damage, require additional storage, and lead to further waste such as motion and transportation.
  3. Motion: Excessive movement of people or equipment due to overproduction and excess inventory, increasing the risk of injuries and inefficiencies.
  4. Transportation: Unnecessary transport of materials or products. Overproduction leads to moving items to and from storage, increasing the likelihood of defects.
  5. Defects: Flaws in products or materials caused by overproduction and mishandling, requiring rework or repair, which consumes additional resources.
  6. Overprocessing: Performing more work than required to meet customer needs, often as a result of fixing defects. This leads to wasted effort and resources.
  7. Waiting: Delays caused by overprocessing and defects. This can involve workers waiting for materials or tasks to be completed, leading to project slowdowns.
  8. Underutilized Talent: Failing to leverage the skills and knowledge of the team. Utilizing the team’s collective genius can prevent other wastes from occurring.

Impact on Construction Projects

Understanding and addressing these wastes are essential for streamlining operations and enhancing productivity. Each type of waste adds unnecessary time, cost, and effort to a project, hampering its success.

Tips for Reducing or Eliminating Waste

  1. Three S System (Sort, Straighten, Sweep/Shine):
    • Sort: Remove unnecessary items from the workspace.
    • Straighten: Organize essential items for easy access.
    • Sweep/Shine: Clean and maintain the workspace to identify waste quickly.
  2. Five S System:
    • Sort
    • Straighten
    • Sweep/Shine
    • Standardize: Establish consistent practices.
    • Sustain: Maintain and review standards regularly.
  3. Engage the Team:
    • Educate everyone about the eight types of waste.
    • Encourage team members to identify and report waste.
    • Use visual tools, like laminated cards, to keep waste types top of mind.

Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Adopting Lean principles and regularly practicing the Three S or Five S system fosters a culture of continuous improvement. Teams become more efficient, project flow improves, and operational excellence becomes achievable.


By recognizing and eliminating the eight types of waste in Lean construction, you can significantly improve project outcomes. Implementing structured systems like the Three S and Five S methods, and engaging your team, will pave the way for a more efficient and successful construction process.

Helpful Resources

For further guidance, download the formatted Canva graphic provided, which outlines the Five S system and the eight types of waste. Distribute these resources to your team to reinforce Lean practices and support your journey towards continuous improvement.

If you want to learn more we have:

-Takt Virtual Training: (Click here)
-Check out our Youtube channel for more info: (Click here) 
-Listen to the Elevate Construction podcast: (Click here) 
-Check out our training programs and certifications: (Click here)
-The Takt Book: (Click here)

Discover Jason’s Expertise:

Meet Jason Schroeder, the driving force behind Elevate Construction IST. As the company’s owner and principal consultant, he’s dedicated to taking construction to new heights. With a wealth of industry experience, he’s crafted the Field Engineer Boot Camp and Superintendent Boot Camp – intensive training programs engineered to cultivate top-tier leaders capable of steering their teams towards success. Jason’s vision? To expand his training initiatives across the nation, empowering construction firms to soar to unprecedented levels of excellence.

On we go!