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TIMWOOD: The Seven Wastes of Lean Manufacturing

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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.

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."

Transportation

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.

How to address transportation issues

  • 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.

Inventory

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.

How to prevent having excess inventory

  • 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."

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Motion

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.

How to reduce or eliminate motion waste

  • 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.