Posted by: JC Gatlin | February 23, 2011

Motion Waste: 10 Examples on the jobsite

Motion is one of the 7 Types of Waste and honestly one of the most common examples of waste on our jobsites. It refers to the extra steps taken by people to accommodate an inefficient process, defects, rework, reprocessing, overproduction or excess inventory. Motion takes time and adds no value to the product or service. To move and add value is called work. To move and not add value is called motion

Here are 10 examples of motion waste on the jobsite as pointed out by our jobsite Construction Managers.

1. Jobsites and vacant lots get muddy. And when our Building Partners park in the mud, their trucks leave mud trails behind them. Our Construction Managers constantly have to sweep the streets to keep up curb appeal and to prevent debris from running into the sewers. This problem was even addressed in a recent Plan-Do-Check-Adjust project.

2. Show me a sewer cap buried under mulch in the landscaping and I’ll show you a frustrated Construction Manager who has to dig it out. It can take him 30 minutes just to find the sewer cap, and that’s providing he notices the error before the inspector arrives. We’ve failed more than one inspection because the sewer cap was buried and inaccessable.

3. How much time is wasted shuffling through an unorganized permit box? Anyone needing access (be it the Construction Manager, Building Partner or Inspector) has to open it slowly and very carefully, else all the paperwork will spring out like a psychotic Jack-in-the Box. When this happens, the Construction Manager scrambles after paperwork blowing across the jobsite. On a good day, he’s just digging into and fumbling through a crumpled mess.

4. This is the classic, text book example of not completing the job. When a crew leaves behind lunch trash, wrappers, cups, spit bottles, unused material, and miscellaneous scraps, someone is going to have to come in behind them and clean it up. Most often its the Construction Manger, who can spend up to an hour at the end of the day straightening the jobsite. Sometimes its the Sales Professional, who hurriedly scoops most things up into a single pile before a prospective buyer steps onto the homesite. Sometimes its the following Building Partner, who has to spend a good portion of his duration time sweeping before his crew can even begin. And sometimes it’s the Homeowners on either side of the jobsite, who have trash blown into their yard and bushes.

5. No one seems to respect the blue prints. They get left out in the sun and rain. They get walked over and trampled on. Trucks run over them. When the Construction Manager has to order a new set because the old one is undecipherable, there’s another $45 down the drain…

6. Again, when a Building Partner doesn’t fully complete his job, it’s up to the next Building Partner to take time out of his schedule to finish it — or worse, work around it.

7. Every Construction Manger in the company marked this scenario as an example of motion waste. After waiting all morning for the county inspector to arrive, the Construction Manager makes a quick trip to another jobsite. In his absence, the inspector arrives. It’s Murphy’s Law. If the Construction Manager needed to speak to the Inspector, he’s out of luck. If the Inspector needed to speak to the Construction Manager, the inspection is failed. It can — and has on many occasions — impacted cycle time. The recurring problem is so prevelent in fact, one Construction Professional addressed it in a recent Plan-Do-Check-Adjust project

8. Motion waste runs rampant in an ineffective or inefficient process. In our system, we were experiencing a breakdown in Production providing a complete Start Packet to Construction when the job was released. There were a multitude of reasons for starting the job before the Start Packet was complete. Regardless, a start packet with missing documents causes the Construction Team headaches — from cycle time delays, to frustrated Building Partners to failed inspections. Construction and Production are currently going through the Plan-Do-Check-Adjust cycle now to get to the root cause of the problem.

9.  The Construction Manager has to check and recheck that there are no cuts or holes in the visqueen and it takes time to tape those holes shut again. That time wasted could be avoided if Building Partners walking across the slab would just watch where they step. And if an accidental rip does occur, take the time to repair it themselves.

10. When a Building Partner crew fails to complete the job 100% the first time, the Construction Manager has to follow behind him, inspect the work, document the  problem or defect, then call the crew supervisor, explain the problem and reschedule the crew back onto the jobsite. The Building Partner crew has to return to the jobsite and complete the job. Finally the Construction Manager re-checks the work, and calls the crew supervisor to let him know the job was actually completed. Exactly how much motion waste is that?

11. One of our Construction Manager said, “You know, it’s not like we’re using invisible dog fencing. The silt fence is hard to miss.” Still, those fences get run over, trampled,  and materials thrown on top of them like they’re, well, not even there. They take a beating, and the Construction Manger has to take time every single day to put them back up, make repairs and, ultimately, pull them up and replace them. There’s not only a motion waste involved, but a lot of dollars wasted replacing the material. Like the example before it, just watch your step… please.

Okay, so there were 11 examples… Consider the last one bonus waste.

© February 2011 Homebuilding Partners, Inc.   twitter-logo



  1. Great examples JC. Thanks for sharing them. I posted a link on FB.


    • I appreciate all your support, Tim. I’m continuing the series next month with Waiting Waste.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tim McMahon, The Lean Library. The Lean Library said: Worth Reading "Motion Waste: 10 Examples on the jobsite" at #Lean Blog Aggregator […]

  3. Great examples. And the pictures help bring them to life.

    Another example I’ve observed is a lot of up and down, whether on scaffolding, ladders, or steps, to get tools, materials, or talk to a person. Up, down, up, down…it’s a good workout at least.

    I was curious…how much of the overall labor content in a home would you estimate is just motion waste?

    • Wow… Jamie, that’s a tough question to answer. There’s a lot though. In fact, I left about 12 more examples from our Construction Professionals out of the article.

      To add to your observation, we see Building Parnters constantly go back and forth to their truck to get tools, materials and supplies. In and out of the house, in and out… Motion waste seems to breed a lot of other waste as well. All of this adds to the amount of time it takes them to complete their job.

  4. […] A Lean Journey di Tim McMahon: Come rendere le riunioni più efficaci… (traduzione automatica)Motion waste: 10 examples on the jobsite dal blog Lean Homebuilding di JC Gatlin: Alcuni esempi di sprechi dovuti alle attività non […]

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