Finding the Muda, Mura, and Muri Inside Your Business

Written by Jason Haines

“The slower but consistent tortoise causes less waste and is more desirable than the speedy hare that races ahead then stops occasionally to doze. The Toyota Production System can only be realized when all the workers become tortoises,” Taiichi Ohno

Over the years I have learned many things about manufacturing and the processes within these facilities. I have worked for train wheel manufacturers in a foundry, an essential oil bottling plant, and a powder coating facility for toilet partitions to name a few. All these facilities have had processes that have had wastes in them.

The more I learn about lean and waste elimination the better understanding I have about the goal of Lean. Lean wants us to go in a certain direction of the way we do work. It wants us to all work together, think about what we are doing, and push us towards a better long-term company. Most of the time we get wrapped up the whiz, bang, pop of the world and think this is the direction to go in. When really all we need is the simplicity of Lean and its tools that help us work like the tortoise and not the hare. Lean helps us slow down and pay attention to what we are doing so we don’t have to produce more than we need. As I always say, we must slow down to speed up.

This week I would like to talk about the three major wastes of Muda, Mura, and Muri. Many don’t hear about these three major wastes because we are trained to only look for and eliminate the eight deadly wastes, which I will talk about in next week’s blog. But it all starts with Muda, Mura, and Muri. I will discuss what they are and how we can eliminate them from the processes; because as we know all parts of Lean work together to make Lean work.


The first of the three major wastes is Mura. Mura is an unevenness to anything including the scheduling of the production process, the balance of the jobs in a cell or any other unbalance in a process. Anytime there is Mura it is creating Muda, or the eight deadly wastes because an unevenness causes trouble throughout the overall processes. A lot of times this unevenness can be taken care of with Just-In-Time Kanban systems. This system allows for minimal inventory at the next station in order to balance out the flow of the process. C Tek can help companies balance out the workflow by providing and designing Single-Lane FIFO Racks. The racks are designed to keep the right amount of inventory at a job and not overwhelm or underwhelm any part of the process.

Many times, Mura can be spotted anywhere that there is an overabundance of paperwork, inventory, or one job is going faster than the next. This causes stress to the people and machines that aren’t needed and allows for more mistakes because the people or machines are driven to go faster than their capability. Often, we see this and start blaming the person who is supposedly going to slow instead of looking to see what the real issue, or root cause of them being slower. You want to check out what is going on before jumping to conclusions and discounting the person as a bad worker.


Muri is when we overburden workers, machines, or anything else within your business. It can be spotted when machines or people are utilized over 100% of their capacity. Muri can be caused by Mura and too much elimination of Muda. Usually businesses don’t discover that they have Muri until it is too late.  Most of the time people will not step forward and speak up, and machines won’t let you know until they break. People start calling off, turnover is extremely high, and machinery isn’t taken care of. These are all signs of Muri, and they are all damaging a company’s bottom line.

With new products and safety mandates that are going into business practices, like C Tek Sneeze Guards, people will be overburdened with workarounds. But C Tek can help with this by retrofitting your facility with Sneeze Guards that fit your processes.

When looking to eliminate Muri we need to go to the Gemba and see what the processes are telling us. When we look at the processes, they can tell us what to eliminate and what we need to adjust to help people and machines have a better flow. We cannot do this from the comfort of our offices, but at the same time how do we alleviate the overburden that is on the managers and leaders who need to get the Lean process started?


The last of the three major wastes is Muda. Muda is the eight deadly wastes and is what most people and businesses start their whole waste elimination with. Many times, people us acronyms, such as TIM WOODS, to describe these wastes and give them an easy way to memorize the wastes. Transportation, Inventory, and Motion (TIM); Waiting, Over production, Over-processing, Defective, and Skills (WOODS). These wastes are the most effective to eliminate but must work in consortium with Mura and Muri. Because if you eliminate these eight wastes and do too much it can affect Mura or Muri in a negative way.

We will go more in-depth on how to eliminate these eight deadly wastes from your business next week. All eight are very important to eliminate and help with all processes to make everyone’s job easier and more efficient. The goal of waste elimination is to provide people a well-organized path to complete their jobs and catch errors before or as they happen. The whole tortoise and hare concept. Many think we need to get to the result quickly with complex machines, but the truly great realize we can get there slowly with tried and true methods.

Lean is a process of using tools that help leaders lead. It is about giving employees a chance to show their abilities while helping them gain valuable skills to advance their careers and learn. With Lean we can develop employees to be stronger, stay at their jobs longer, and maybe one day run the company. It is all about helping and growing the people and the company.