8 wastes in every business

There are wastes in every organisation but what are they? There are 8 wastes in every business that lead to inefficiency. A core principle in lean thinking is the provision of value for the customer and the elimination of waste. Waste can come in the form of lost time, material scrapped, and labour expended which doesn’t add value for the customer.

By increasing value and reducing the amount of wasteful work performed, many organisations experience a transformation that allows them to significantly improve competitiveness within their industries. In short, producing more with the same resources. 

The 8 wastes in every business are commonly referred to by the acronym TIMWOODS: 

  • Transport
  • Inventory
  • Motion
  • Waiting
  • Over-production
  • Over-processing
  • Defects
  • Skills

With each of these wastes, we will give you an example from the office, manufacturing and construction industries.


Transport is a waste because normally few customers are willing to pay for excessive transport of material or information or documents.


  • Working from home (WFH) Having to regularly go to the office to pick up equipment or files when not properly resourced or equipped to WFH. 
  • Having an unnecessarily long distance between workstations and or operations. 
  • The movement of material stockpiles multiple times throughout a project. 


Inventory hides mistakes and unaligned processes. The storage of this inventory requires money to finance it, which could be spent productively elsewhere. In addition to that, inventory requires space that could potentially be better utilised.


  • Excessive storage of office equipment. 
  • High inventory stocks of raw, semi-finished, and finished goods. 
  • Stockpiles of materials.  


Unnecessary motion wastes time, it occurs because of poor workplace or process organization and lack of ergonomic design at workstations. 


  • People “borrowing” cables, monitors, docking stations etc. from other people’s workstation and not replacing them. 
  • Searching for drawings and tools. 
  • Multiple trips to get tools and materials 


Waiting is probably the most obvious type of waste. Very often from the perspective of a product or process 80% or more of the total throughput time is waiting time. 


  • Waiting for decisions, approvals, releases from managers. 
  • Set-up times and maintenance of machines. 
  • Waiting for resources or supplies. 


Over-production relates to activities unnecessary to meet customer demand. It is also called the “mother of all types of waste” because Over-production causes all other types of waste.  


  • Creation of presentations without a concrete target or customer. 
  • Manufacturing of products to optimize machine capacity utilization. 
  • Overreporting information that is not used or produced too frequently. 


Over-Processing describes process steps or functions that are not necessary to fulfill customer requirements or performing wasteful steps where they aren’t required. It includes redundant or duplicate operations. 


  • Multiple and redundant data entry. 
  • Product features, not adding value for the customer. 
  • Multiple Inspection and Approval steps. 


Defects that result from mistakes can cause scrap material or lead to rework, both create an additional cost of repeating tasks, doing them more than once. The essential point is that all tasks or activities should be performed Right First Time.


  • Mistakes in transferring numbers or text from one file into another.
  • Poor or wrong calibration.
  • Reworking drawings and paperwork.


Not using the talent of all the team members by not maximising everyone’s contribution, growing their potential, or engaging and involving Team Members. Not giving people the training they need to do the job correctly and efficiently. The examples of this waste cross over from one industry to the next very easily.


  • Not providing people time to think.
  • Not involving people in change. 
  • Not challenging anyone to improve their work, their process. 


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