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TIMWOOD 7 Seven Wastes

Updated on August 27, 2016
LeanMan profile image

I am a lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, Quality Management, and Business Management trainer and consultant with experience around the world.

Why Seven Wastes

The easiest way to remember the 7 wastes of Lean manufacturing is to ask yourself "Who is TIMWOOD?"

  • Transport
  • Inventory
  • Motion
  • Waiting
  • Over-processing
  • Overproduction
  • Defects

These are the activities within your company that do not add value and cost you money. Surprisingly, we usually spend less than 5% of our time actually doing something in our working day that actually adds any value to the customer, everything else can be classified as waste.

Waste has been classified into seven main categories as in the diagram below. To be able to eliminate them or reduce them along with the costs associated with them, you need to fully understand what each waste is.

If you can identify the waste when you see it, you then have a chance to work on it to either reduce it or to eliminate it altogether. In another of my Lean Manufacturing hubs (Increase profit through waste reduction) I discussed the seven wastes and how you can save a huge amount of money in your business by eliminating them.

These wastes were originally classified by Toyota within their Toyota Production System (TPS) before it became known as lean manufacturing here in the west.

Waste reduction is a major part of lean manufacturing; the benefits of lean manufacturing are huge, it can help reduce your costs significantly adding to your profit. As well as these monetary gains it also helps you to reduce your lead times and service your customer much better. Reducing the seven wastes as part of a waste prevention program will add a huge percentage to your bottom line.

However, care should be taken to ensure that you do not make the elimination of the 7 wastes the only focus of your lean implementation. Any lean implementation should follow the principles of lean which will cause the elimination or reduction in waste that you are seeking.

The Seven Wastes Explained

7 Wastes TIMWOOD
7 Wastes TIMWOOD | Source

7 Wastes in Manufacturing


Who is Tim Wood?

A useful way to remember the seven wastes of lean manufacturing is the useful mnemonic TIMWOOD;

The wastes of;

  • Transport,
  • Inventory,
  • Motion,
  • Waiting,
  • Overproduction,
  • Over-processing,
  • Defects.

This Mnemonic was developed by a company called Standard Products in the UK where I used to work and is now probably the widest accepted way of remembering the seven wastes, just ask yourself "Who is Tim Wood?"

The seven wastes TIMWOOD are described in detail below after an alternative mnemonic.

WORMPIT 7 Wastes

An Alternative to Seven Wastes TIMWOOD is WORMPIT,

  • Waiting,
  • Overproduction,
  • Rejects,
  • Motion,
  • Processing,
  • Inventory,
  • Transport.

There are more possible alternatives to seven wastes Timwood and 7 Wastes Wormpit but in my mind these are the easiest to remember and reflect the traditional seven wastes.

The full description for each waste is detailed below;

7 WastesTransportation

Seven Wastes Transportation
Seven Wastes Transportation | Source

The Waste of Transportation

The waste of transportation is the movement of product between processes, normally using a forklift truck or a smaller "personal" piece of equipment to maneuver product around the factory.

This transportation wastes both time and energy and has the potential to damage the products. Transportation is caused by large batches and overproduction as well as poor layout.

It is quite normal for factories to be laid out in a traditional style with all specific process types being located in different areas, so all molding will be done in one area (or shop), machining in another and so on. This leads to the need to transport product over potentially long distances.

I once worked on a project where we measured the distance travel around the factory which produced ground to air missiles, the missiles travelled further around the factory than they could travel when they were fired!

7 Wastes Inventory

seven wastes Inventory
seven wastes Inventory | Source

The Waste of Inventory

Inventory is all of that Work in Progress (WIP) and stock that is sitting around costing you money. One of the principles of Lean Manufacturing is that of Just in Time, producing what the customer wants when they want it, failure to follow these principles results in overproduction and the creation of Inventory.

Inventory is created by the waste of Overproduction, this is the worst of all the seven wastes as this "sea" of inventory hides all of the problems under it.

Because of all of this inventory, we put up with unreliable machinery and suppliers as the effects are hidden from view by the amount of inventory that we can continue to work with.

7 Wastes Motion

Seven wastes Motion
Seven wastes Motion | Source

The Waste of Motion

The waste of motion is the movement within a process rather than the movement of material between processes (Transportation), you watch someone at work and see how often they end up having to stretch too far, have to re orientate their work piece or perform some sort of gymnastic maneuver to achieve their work.

All of these movements take time and also have the potential to cause damage to product and stress to the individual. The earliest records of motion studies go back to the start of the 20th Century with Frank Gilbreth who studied bricklayers, his observation of the constant bending down to retrieve heavy bricks from ground level rather than the bricks being available at a more comfortable height were the start of motion studies.

It is far better to have the products and equipment in a potion that is easily and comfortably reached without delays and without stress.

The waste of motion can also be applied to machines, how often have you watched a machine travel for ten or twenty seconds before it actually reaches the product and starts to perform some actual work?

7 Wastes Waiting

Seven wastes Waiting
Seven wastes Waiting | Source

The Waste of Waiting

The Waste of Waiting, is exactly that, waiting for machines, products, people, information, etc.

How many times a day do you find yourself waiting for something in both work and in your personal life, after all, why do they call some of these places waiting rooms! We spend a lot of our time waiting for various reasons, previous operations over-running, deliveries not arriving, people and machines not being reliable and so on!

Imagine if you could eliminate all of these problems that lead to you having to wait, how much time would you gain back in your day to do something productive.

7 Wastes Overproduction

seven Wastes Overproduction
seven Wastes Overproduction | Source

The Waste of Overproduction

Overproduction is producing something either before it is needed or in too great a quantity resulting in Work in Progress (WIP) and finished goods stock.

This inventory that you have produced costs you money, either your own cash that you have to invest, or money from the bank that you have to pay additional interest on! It also takes up space in your company, it has to be stored somewhere, it also has to be transported around, usually by fork lift trucks due to the amount of material involved, all of these again additional costs.

But we do, we overproduce, a big reason is that it is what we have always done, we produce big batches of material and hope that the customer will buy it, hopefully we produce based on some sort of forecast, but not always! Why do we have big batches, normally because some of the machines that we use take time to set up, so to ensure we use them efficiently, we try to maximize the amount of time that they run for to minimize the relative time taken in setting up.

We also have big batches because we don't trust our suppliers and other internal processes, we have stock to give us some comfort, comfort that should something go wrong we still have plenty of stock to keep us busy while the problems are resolved.

We also have large amounts of inventory due to processes within our production being unbalanced, that is one produces faster or slower than the other causing inventory to build between them. Rather than slow one down or work to speed the other up we just blindly produce as fast as we can, after all in many companies the operator will earn his bonus!

One of the main principles of Lean manufacturing is that of waste reduction, the tool of Just In Time Manufacturing specifically targets the waste of Inventory due to overproduction.

7 wastes Over-Processing

Seven wastes Over-processing
Seven wastes Over-processing | Source

The Waste of Over-Processing

Over Processing is when we do work that the customer has not explicitly asked for, such as polishing areas that do not require polishing or defining tolerances and specifications far in excess of what is actually required.

How many engineering drawings have you looked at where the designer has specified an incredibly tight tolerance that requires high tech machinery to achieve when the reality of the product could mean that the tolerance could be far wider without any problems and less expensive to achieve.

7 Wastes Defects

Seven Wastes Defects
Seven Wastes Defects | Source

The Waste of Defects

Defects are what most people think of when you talk about waste, but these are only one small part of the seven wastes.

Defects cost a lot more than what most people think, it is not just the cost of the defect itself think about what then has to happen; we have to rework the product or service, sometimes at the site of the customer. We have to fill in defect reports and have problem solving meetings. We have already lost the time and capacity spent producing the part, then we have to reschedule and use more time and capacity to produce replacements.

Defect costs are normally depicted as an iceberg, the main costs hidden beneath the surface out of sight, most estimates suggest that the true cost of a defect is around ten times higher than the initial cost!

7 Wastes Creativity

Seven Wastes Creativity and Talent
Seven Wastes Creativity and Talent | Source

Additional Wastes

The Waste of Creativity / Talent / People, define it as you will, but it is the failure to harness the people within your organization. One of the principles of Lean Manufacturing is respecting and Involving your employees in continual improvement of all that you do, failure to do this is truly one of the most shortsighted of the seven wastes.

Failing to use your employees is not just a waste it is downright stupid, they are the people who know your business best, they are the ones that can come up with the best ways to improve your business. Respect them and involve them, the benefits are immense.

Waste of Resources, not using our natural resources efficiently, this means turning off the lights and heating when not required. Not leaving machines running when not in use, closing doors rather than letting heat escape, and so on. Would you behave this way at home, few do, but how many people act this way at work?

Waste of By-Products, not using the "waste" or "by-products" from your processes, for instance, if you had a furniture factory you could use your sawdust and off-cuts to generate heat for the factory or even electricity.

Lean Seven Wastes Posters

Seven Wastes Video

Seven Wastes Posters and Guides

There are a number of useful products that are easily found that can help you in your drive to reduce and eliminate the seven wastes in your business.

Posters depicting the seven wastes can be placed around your facility to remind your people as to what they are, especially useful if placed in areas where people meet to run improvement projects or to solve problems. Over the years I have produced many myself but now you can buy many good versions very easily.

In addition to seven wastes posters you can also buy simple, colorful pocket guides about the 7 wastes, these are very useful to carry with you as a reminder of what the seven wastes are in your processes. If you are implementing lean production techniques then these guides are very useful. I used to carry a set of these small guides on subjects such as 5S, 7 wastes, SMED and so on, both as a reference for myself and as something I could use to quickly explain to others what it was I was trying to achieve.

Waste Walk Lean Manufacturing

Lean Manufacturing Support to reduce the Seven Wastes

The following are useful links for business support and lean manufacturing resources. The Institute for Manufacturing is a very good place to approach if you require support in implementing business improvement techniques such as Lean Manufacturing, they will be able to help you to reduce the seven wastes in your business. The Chartered Quality Institute is another body in the UK that will be able to help you with either finding more information or people to support you initiatives to improve your business. American Society of Quality can help you in the US in much the same way that the CQI in the UK can help you, both institutes have a good understanding of techniques such as Lean Manufacturing and know the need to remove the seven wastes in all aspects of your business. American National Association of Manufacturers can point you in the direction of trainers and consultants as well as provide help and information for your lean manufacturing initiative. UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills can help you with training and development in all areas of your business and may also be able to provide funding and other support for reducing the seven wastes in your business. The UK Manufacturing Advisory Service is a great place to start for advice with implementing Lean Manufacturing and attacking the seven wastes within your business. The MAS services are often free of very low cost being heavily subsidized, if I were a UK manufacturer I would avail of there services and try to eliminate the 7 wastes in my business. UK Business Link are not as speacialised as the MAS but they can still find you grants and support to support any type of business improvement initiative or change to your business. US Business Link are the US equivalent of the UK business link and can help you in much the same way. Most services are free so you have nothing to lose if you want to call them in and try to reduce the seven wastes or implement other techniques in your business. as the modern birthplace of Lean Manufacturing through the Toyota Production System (TPS) are a useful place to look at for the latest in developments and new ideas about lean. Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders are an excellent place to go to for advice and publications about lean manufacturing and the seven wastes. Automotive Industry Action Group in the US is another place to approach for help with eliminating the seven wastes, as with the SMMT in the UK they can help with advice and publications as well as other services.

These Links will help you to find more information regarding TIMWOOD (the Seven wastes) and how to improve your business through implementing lean manufacturing and other business improvement techniques.


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    • profile image

      Rakesh Babu Pantagani 17 months ago

      Very Good Information and i learned a lot. Thank you for sharing.

      Every Enginner musy know & Implement in their Organisation

    • KarenCookieJar profile image

      KarenCookieJar 20 months ago

      Waiting is my most hated of the 7 wastes. Very interesting article.

    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 2 years ago from At the Gemba

      Reading the article above will help you to understand about waste and how it relates to the supply chain and within your business. There is a section all about inventory. This appears to be your assignment question so I suggest that you do the research and learn as it will be better ingrained in your mind rather than someone else just giving you the answer without you reading and trying to understand.

    • profile image

      blessing 2 years ago

      I need an urgent answer, pls discuss how excess inventory is considered to be one of the seven waste in the supply chain operation

    • profile image

      Alex 3 years ago from UK

      Great article, I know a lot of people who could do with a reminder of the wastes.

    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 4 years ago from At the Gemba

      Thank you for commenting Andri, hope that you have managed to make some use of the info to remove the causes of the seven wastes in your workplace.

    • profile image

      Andri Bandung 4 years ago

      Verry usefull hud. two thumbs up for you

      I hope you always give me some information about all of you have

    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 6 years ago from At the Gemba

      Thank you for your comments toknowinfo - the seven wastes are present in everything that we do in our businesses and our lives, remembering the TIMWOOD mnemonic can help you to identify these wastes and thus work towards eliminating them.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 6 years ago

      Excellent hub. You cover a lot of information, that can be applied to many areas. Rated up, useful and bookmarked. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 7 years ago from At the Gemba

      I have had the privilege of traveling to different countries and seeing many companies with many different cultures. I think that companies that actually do value their employees are the minority rather than the majority and this really is a major waste.

    • profile image

      C. Ramsdell 7 years ago

      I especially appreciate the "waste of creativity" /etc. point. I've been lucky enough to work for two companies in the last ten years who view employees as their greatest assets, which made leading teams/managing people a much easier, pleasant, not to mention growing and exciting experience. Thanks for your hub on this topic!

    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 7 years ago from At the Gemba

      Thank you for your kind comments, if governments were to implement lean techniques and start to eliminate the seven wastes then we would certainly have a far more efficient government and waste far less of our tax money..

    • nanospeck profile image

      Akhil Anil 7 years ago

      The contents is really helpful and concise.I have learned the outlines these in Principles Of Management.I hope if governments rule with giving more importance to these principles the country could progress faster.Again My votes up leanman!Great hub!

    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 7 years ago from At the Gemba

      Worked in the automotive industry for 20 years designing and supplying suspension systems, sealing systems and other products... So I guess I'm an Engineer... lol

      But now in the construction industry!!!

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      you're welcome, engineer wrote this hub hehe, Am I correct?

    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 7 years ago from At the Gemba

      Thanks for the words of encouragement PDH

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      this is very informative and well discussed, thanks leanMan, Maita

    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 7 years ago from At the Gemba

      A problem that often occurs due to lack of communication between engineering/design departments and the operation / production departments in the same company.

      Thanks for your comments

    • johnyater profile image

      johnyater 7 years ago from Hamilton, Ohio

      Thanks for the insightful hub on wastes. Another problem with inventory is that when you make a design change, you may find yourself with either obsolete parts in inventory or having to jump through hoops trying to use up the old style parts...

    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 7 years ago from At the Gemba

      If I manage to leave the forums for long enough I will be publishing more hubs on various lean manufacturing tools and other business improvement ideas.

      Thanks for your comments

    • terrowhite profile image

      terrowhite 7 years ago

      This one is a great hub.. thanks for sharing it! I look forward to read more from you.. Anyhow the display picture is also cool :)

    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 7 years ago from At the Gemba

      Thanks for the comments..

      I hate writing ISO procedures and have done so many... Introduced systems into a few companies over the years..

      I am sure some future hubs from me will be about this subject as it is one of my other areas of expertise having been a quality manager for many years..

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      LeanMan, Great hub and one that I will certainly review again. I wrote ISO procedures and was amazed at how it improved the company. Seven Wastes - Must Read! Peace :) BTW the way you hold your fingers...

    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 7 years ago from At the Gemba

      Thanks for the comment, Time is Money, every minute wasted is a wasted oportunity to earn money. There is waste in everything that we do, whilst I do not advocate removing all waste and having people acting like non-stop manufacturing robots, we could be a lot more productive than we are.

    • Origin profile image

      Origin 7 years ago from Minneapolis

      I used to work at a retail store that used to try to be lean and mean concerning waste management. They have a motto, which I believe is a common one, "time is money!". Thanks for a great hub!