When we talk about waste, our thoughts go directly to the principles of lean production, organizational “philosophy”, even before being merely productive, of distant origin, both temporal and spatial: we are between the ’45s and the ’70s when Toyota Production System (TPS) was born and developed, but this is a constantly evolving system, therefore in 1988 John Krafcik, former Toyota engineer, coined the “Lean Production” concept.

This means that waste is an extremely topical subject: it is an “epic war” that the manufacturing world has been carrying out for a long time: it is actually a monster with many heads … and it is not easy to defeat them all.


The monster with 7 heads

The definition of waste looks simple enough, but complexity is often hidden behind simplicity.


“Anything that blocks or slows down the flow of material is wasteful”


So why does this “monster” have 7 heads?

The 7 wastes of Lean Production

The 7 wastes of Lean Production

Because the waste is hidden under different pretenses, and is able to cause damage from many parts.

Let’s see what the 7 heads represent:

  1. Excess production
  2. Raw or semi-finished materials
  3. Material handling
  4. Useless stocks
  5. Unnecessary material process
  6. Transfers of people
  7. Production defects

    Becoming aware of these wastes, or the existence of the monster in your company, is the first step in defeating it



The best weapon

Denying the existence of waste is the first step towards defeat.

We have mentioned that lean production is a constantly evolving “philosophy“. So let’s see what tools are available today.

The era of Industry 4.0 has brought a revolution especially in the lean production approach, enormously strengthening it, replacing “analog” tools with those digital and interconnected.

One of these tools is mentioned in the title: OEE, or the Overall Equipment Effectiveness. A tool that NeXT has developed and refined for years thanks to the valuable inputs of our most high-profile and demanding customers.

We can say, indeed we have repeatedly mentioned it on this Blog, that it is a tool (a weapon!) that should not be missing in any company. And we don’t say it for mere personal gain.

Let’s see the features of this amazing weapon. The OEE allows you to:

  • Real-time monitoring the machine availability. This is why we are monitoring the presence of downtimes. At the same time it allows you to detect the cause of each stop. In this way we are going to stem the first waste, the 1° head of the monster
  • Monitor process performance, i.e. speed. A slow process can be caused by various factors, such as the handling of materials or the transfer of people or setting times that are too slow (especially if the workplace is not well designed): so let’s defeat the 3° and 6° head.
  • Monitor the quality of the product, recording the number of rejects together with the causes of the defects. And this is head number 7.


Four monster heads, four wastes attacked by a single tool. For the other heads certainly there are also other weapons, other solutions, such as the Kanban, the Warehouse Management System, the machine ledger…and other solutions designed for Industry 4.0.

But the OEE is the main solution, as it solves the most severe and urgent problems, providing above all a valid support to those who must make decisions for the continuous improvement of production performance.

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PS: Many thanks to my coworker Lorenzo Rossi, for the illustration of the 7-headed monster! Not just an excellent programmer, I’d say… 😉


Ascoltando: Queen – “Dragon attack
Lettura in corso: “Monster manual” by Gary Gigax
Mood: Fantasy

Digital strategist

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