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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."


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 includes products in production and completed stock that sits around, takes up space, and costs 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 products lying around, it indicates 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."


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.


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.

Causes of Waste Due to Idle Time

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


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

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 products 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 want to use them efficiently. We should try maximizing the number of time machines run 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, costing the company money and space. Overproduction is one of the worst kinds of waste because it leads to other waste and disguises the need for improvement.

How to Reduce Overproduction

  • 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.


Over-processing is putting more time and effort into a product than a customer requests. A few examples of this include 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.

How to Avoid Over-Processing

  • Standardizing the best techniques for workers to follow
  • Setting clear specifications and quality acceptance standards
An Example of a Defect

An Example of a Defect


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 more than you think because they affect 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!

Ways to Lower the Frequency of Defects

  • 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.

Additional Wastes: Creativity, Resources, and By-Products


An additional waste 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 online options.

Pocket guides are another way to 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.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


dave on December 04, 2019:

only doing it for school outherwise pretty dead guide boomer

Gavin Fernadez on November 12, 2019:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Article. I.

Section. 1.

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section. 2.

The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Section. 3.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Section. 4.

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

Section. 5.

Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.

Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Section. 6.

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

Section. 7.

All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; an

prakash Adsul on February 13, 2018:

Very nice information & i learn more thanks for sharing .

we are practicing Lean Mfg.since 2011 & we are focusing on value added activity & Non value added activity & we are getting very good results too.

Rakesh Babu Pantagani on April 01, 2016:

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

Every Enginner musy know & Implement in their Organisation

KarenCookieJar on January 17, 2016:

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

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on February 25, 2015:

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.

blessing on February 24, 2015:

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

Alex from UK on March 26, 2014:

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

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on September 26, 2012:

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.

Andri Bandung on September 26, 2012:

Verry usefull hud. two thumbs up for you

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

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on March 12, 2011:

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 on March 12, 2011:

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.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on July 07, 2010:

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.

C. Ramsdell on July 06, 2010:

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!

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on July 05, 2010:

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..

Akhil Anil on July 05, 2010:

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!

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on June 01, 2010:

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 from US on May 31, 2010:

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

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 29, 2010:

Thanks for the words of encouragement PDH

prettydarkhorse from US on May 29, 2010:

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

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 22, 2010:

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

John Yater from Hamilton, Ohio on May 21, 2010:

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...

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 20, 2010:

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 on May 20, 2010:

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 :)

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 20, 2010:

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..

Katie McMurray from Ohio on May 19, 2010:

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...

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 17, 2010:

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 from Minneapolis on May 16, 2010:

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!