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Mura is one of three Japanese terms meaning waste. The others are muda, the traditional form of waste in which resources are not effectively used, and muri, meaning overburden or overexertion.

Mura means inconsistency or excess variation in either processes or demand. When processes are not standardized, each different method adds wasted movement to a process. It also creates a large potential for quality problems.

Variations in demand, another form of mura, strain supply chains, limit the opportunities for standardization, and create wasted effort for management when they try to adjust to the fluctuations. On top of that, excess variation impacts lead time. The lack of consistency means that it is hard to predict how long it will take to get work through a system. These ups and downs of production make it difficult for sales teams to accurately estimate delivery times for customers.

Additionally, mura limits the opportunity for improvement. Without normal operatings conditions in place, there is nothing to build upon. Any change has limited impact, as there is no guarantee that it will be followed each time the process is completed.

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