In a general sense, waste can be described as something that doesn’t add value. In the context of manufacturing, waste is more accurately defined as any expense or effort spent that does contribute to converting raw materials into a completed product. 

There are a couple of Simple Mnemonics that you can use to help you remember the 7 Wastes. The first is to ask yourself “Who is TIM WOOD?”


  1. Transport
  2. Inventory
  3. Motion
  4. Waiting
  5. Over Processing
  6. Over Production
  7. Defects

One of the primary goals of the Lean manufacturing approach to business is the reduction of any material, effort and cost that does not ultimately add value that the customer is willing to pay for. Lean experts have identified eight distinct types of waste and developed specific tools and techniques to fight them.

1. Defects

When a product or part can’t be used for its intended purpose the cost of the resources and labor that went into its creation are lost. If defective products make it to the customer, the waste is only compounded in the form of returned items, lost goodwill, and unnecessary customer service efforts.

2. Over production

This typically occurs when a product or component is manufactured before it is required. Overproduction is a common occurrence in Just-In-Case’ management, leading to numerous issues such as interrupted workflow, increased storage costs, increased expenditure, and excessive lead times. This type of waste can be minimized by implementing better planning and work coordination procedures. 

3. Waiting time

wasted due to an interruption in the production chain; this interruption can cause the entire manufacturing process to either slow down or come to a grinding halt. For example, if a particular task along the chain takes longer than usual to complete, employees in charge of subsequent operations can experience downtime as they wait for the bottleneck to be addressed.

4. Non Utilized Talent

Organizations seek to reduce this waste by engaging employees in processes and improvement activities, by providing learning opportunities and outlining career paths.

Human potential can also be wasted when there are barriers to innovation and invention. Manufacturing service providers that make prototyping and iteration easier help reduce the waste of human potential by giving everyone the opportunity to see their ideas come to life.

5. Tranportation

Unnecessary movements of products, people, tools, inventory, or materials. This can lead to unnecessary work and transportation expenses. Eliminating this movement may decrease the environmental footprint of a product, as well as wear and tear on employees. In general, transportation waste can be caused by:

  • Poor plant/office layout
  • Unnecessary or excessive steps in the process
  • Misaligned process flow
  • Poorly-designed systems

6. Inventory

when product is created disproportionate to demand. Often a symptom of overproduction, inventory issues can prompt unnecessary storage costs, lead to wasted transportation and motion and signal a breakdown in process between manufacturing and purchasing. As a fix, advances in manufacturing technology have made it easier than ever for organizations to create products only as dictated by demand.

7. Motion

Any excess movement, whether by employees or machines, that doesn’t add value to the product, service or process. Typical causes include:

  • Poor process design and controls
  • Poor workstation/shop layout
  • Shared tools and machines
  • Workstation congestion
  • Isolated and siloed operations
  • Lack of standards

The solution here is to re-arrange layouts to decrease the distance between stations, and make it easier to reach things that are often used.

8. Excess Processing

the creation of multiple versions of the same task, process more than is required or long-winded poorly designed processes. Examples include:

  • Excessive reports
  • Multiple signatures
  • Re-entering data and duplicated data
  • Lack of standards
  • Poor communication
  • Over designed equipment
  • Misunderstanding of the customer’s needs
  • Human error

All of these unnecessarily increase your costs, time and resources. You must first examine and map your organization to analyze the processes in order to fix them. Standardize processes, empower employees and eliminate unnecessary documentation, sign-off processes and meetings.