TIMWOOD: The 7 Seven Wastes of Lean Manufacturing

Updated on December 11, 2017
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I am a trainer and consultant in lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, quality management, and business management.

"TIMWOOD" is a way to remember the seven wastes to reduce and eliminate in manufacturing.
"TIMWOOD" is a way to remember the seven wastes to reduce and eliminate in manufacturing. | Source

Who or What is TIMWOOD?

Running an efficient business involves lean manufacturing, a waste-reducing method that affects production plans, manufacturing, and customer relations. Using the mnemonic "TIMWOOD" can help you reduce costs, increase profits, improve lead times, and boost customer satisfaction. The easiest way to remember the seven wastes is to ask yourself, "Who is TIMWOOD?".

"TIMWOOD" stands for:

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

If you can identify existing wastes, you can work to reduce or hopefully eliminate them. However, make sure not to focus solely on eliminating the seven wastes. If you implement lean principles, waste will inevitably be reduced or eliminated.

Transportation is one of the seven wastes identified in "TIMWOOD."
Transportation is one of the seven wastes identified in "TIMWOOD." | Source


The waste of transportation refers to the movement of products in between processes. This typically involves using a forklift truck or smaller similar equipment to maneuver products around the factory. The situation is typically caused by overproduction and inefficient building layouts.

Factories are normally laid out in a traditional style where specific processes are located in different areas. For instance, all the molding is done in one area, and all the machining is done in another. This creates the need to transport a product over potentially long, unnecessary distances.

Address transportation issues by:

  • Placing processes as close together as possible, with the material moving directly from process to process without significant delays
  • Improving the production pathway
  • Having multiple storage locations
  • Not creating lengthy or complex material-handling systems

Transportation wastes time and energy and can end up damaging the products themselves. I once worked on a missile factory project where the missiles moved a greater distance in production around the factory than they traveled when fired!

Inventory is another problem to reduce or eliminate in lean manufacturing.
Inventory is another problem to reduce or eliminate in lean manufacturing. | Source


Inventory includes products in production and completed stock that sit around, take up space, and cost you money. One of the principles of lean manufacturing is "just in time," which involves producing what customers want, only when they want it. Failure to follow these principles results in overproduction and accumulated inventory.

Inventory is created by the waste of overproduction and is the worst of all the seven wastes. If you see unnecessary product lying around, it's an indication that the production process doesn't have a continuous flow.

To prevent having excess inventory, you can:

  • Adjust the production process to create a smooth flow of labor
  • Work with smaller batch sizes
  • Observe the first-in-first-out principle regarding stagnant materials
  • Reduce the changeover time
  • Ensure workers adhere to procedures

Many problems hide under the "sea" of inventory. We end up putting up with unreliable machinery and suppliers because the consequences are disguised by the amount of inventory we have to work with.

Motion is one of the seven wastes in "TIMWOOD."
Motion is one of the seven wastes in "TIMWOOD." | Source


The waste of motion refers to the movement within a process rather than the movement of material between processes (transportation). You can see this when you watch someone at work and see how often they have to stretch too far, re-orient their project, or perform some sort of gymnastic maneuver to achieve their work.

The waste of motion can also apply to machines, which you can observe when it has to travel for ten or twenty seconds before it actually reaches the product and starts to perform its function. It is far better to have the products and equipment in an easy and comfortable position to prevent stress and delays.

Reduce or eliminate motion waste by:

  • Improving workstation layouts to prevent excessive walking, bending, or reaching
  • Arranging methods to allow parts to transfer smoothly from one hand to the other
  • Redesigning the workplace layout to allow for less reorientation of materials
  • Reducing batch sizes

These movements sap time. They can also potentially damage the product and stress the individual. Motion studies first began in the 1900s with Frank Gilbreth, who studied bricklayers and noticed their constant bending to pick up heavy bricks from the ground instead of having the bricks available at a more comfortable height.

Reduce waiting times in the manufacturing process to help eliminate waste.
Reduce waiting times in the manufacturing process to help eliminate waste. | Source


Waiting involves any idle time produced when two interdependent processes aren't completely synchronized. This can be caused by machines, products, people, and information that forces operators to wait or work inefficiently. We spend a lot of our time waiting for various reasons that may include:

  • Previous operations running over their expected time
  • Deliveries failing to arrive
  • Unreliable people and machines
  • Poor man/machine coordination
  • Need for batch, instead of single product, completion
  • Time required to rework a product

Imagine if you could eliminate the factors that force you to wait and the resulting free time you can use to do something productive.

Avoid overproduction in the manufacturing process.
Avoid overproduction in the manufacturing process. | Source


Overproduction works in two forms:

  • Producing something before it is needed
  • Producing too much of a product, resulting in work-in-progress and surplus stock

Here are three main reasons we produce too much product:

  1. We've always done it, usually in the hopes that customers will buy it. Ideally, you manufacture product based on an accurate analysis or forecast, but this isn't always the case. Big batches may be created because of the time it takes to set up the machines and wanting to use them efficiently. We should try maximizing the amount of time machines run for to minimize the relative time taken to set them up.
  2. We may not trust our suppliers and other internal processes. The extra stock gives us peace of mind in case something goes wrong and products can't be manufactured.
  3. Our production processes are unbalanced. One process may be faster or slower than another, which results in building inventory. Instead of slowing one down or speeding up the other, we blindly produce as fast as we can.

The extra inventory you make needs to be stored and transported, which ends up costing the company money and space. Overproduction is one of the worst kinds of waste because it leads to other wastes and disguises the need for improvement.

Reduce overproduction by:

  • Working with smaller batch sizes
  • Creating more reliable processes
  • Establishing stable schedules
  • Balancing cells or departments
  • Using accurate forecast information that reflects the actual demand

Avoid over-processing in the manufacturing process to reduce waste.
Avoid over-processing in the manufacturing process to reduce waste. | Source


Over-processing is putting more time and effort into a product than a customer requests. A few examples of this includes painting areas that won't be seen, establishing tight tolerances, and cleaning a product beyond the degree needed.

How many engineering drawings have you seen where the designer specifies an incredibly tight tolerance that, in turn, requires high-tech machinery to achieve? In reality, the product could be produced more cheaply and just as well with a wider tolerance.

Avoid over-processing by:

  • Standardizing best techniques for workers to follow
  • Setting clear specifications and quality acceptance standards

An Example of a Defect
An Example of a Defect | Source


Most people think solely of defects when you bring up waste in manufacturing, but they comprise only a small part of the seven wastes.

Unfortunately, defects cost a lot more than you think because it affects more than the product itself. A defect leads to reworking the product/service and the need to fill in reports and hold problem-solving meetings. You lose not only the time and energy spent producing the part, but you also have to reschedule and invest more time and energy to create replacements.

Defect costs are normally depicted as an iceberg. The main costs hide beneath the surface, and most estimates place the true cost of a defect at ten times the initial cost!

To lower the frequency of defects, try to:

  • Institute adequate training to improve workers' skills
  • Improve processes
  • Source capable suppliers
  • Reduce operator error
  • Lower the excess stock
  • Improve transportation plans

Try to encourage employee creativity, efficient resource use, and intentionality with by-products.
Try to encourage employee creativity, efficient resource use, and intentionality with by-products. | Source

Seven Wastes Video

Additional Wastes: Creativity, Resources, and By-Products


An additional waste that you may find is the failure to harness the people in your company. One lean manufacturing principle involves respecting employees and involving them in the improvement process. Failing to do this is one of the most shortsighted wastes because:

  • Employees know your business best and can come up with the optimal solutions for improvement
  • Lack of ownership leads to sub-optimal performance


Wasting resources results when you don't use your facilities efficiently. A few examples include:

  • Failing to turn off the lights and heat when they're not needed
  • Leaving the machines running
  • Not closing doors and allowing the heat to escape


This waste is what happens when you fail to use the by-products from your process for something productive. For instance, if you had a furniture factory, you could use your sawdust and off-cuts to generate heat or electricity for the factory.

Resources for the Seven Wastes

Posters and pocket guides can help you reduce and eliminate the seven wastes in your business.

Posters depicting the seven wastes can be placed around your facility to remind your people of each waste. They can be a great reference in places people meet to run improvement projects and solve problems. I created many of them over the years, but you can find many great options available online.

Pocket guides are another way you can remind yourself and others of the seven wastes as you approach the manufacturing processes.

What Is "WORMPIT?"

An alternative to "TIMWOOD" is "WORMPIT:"

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

You can come up with your own mnemonic, but I find these to be the easiest to remember.

Waste Walk Lean Manufacturing


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    • profile image

      Rakesh Babu Pantagani 23 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 2 years 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 3 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 5 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 5 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!