Guide: 8 Wastes

The “8 Wastes” methodology, originating from the Toyota Production System (TPS), and is a key foundational Lean principle. Originally the 8 Wastes was just  “7 Wastes”, but over time its has expanded to address an eighth form of waste which is Skills. These wastes identify inefficiencies in processes, which result in unnecessary costs, longer lead times, and a reduction in quality. Understanding and identifying these wastes is important for any businesses that are aiming to be streamlined and efficient with their processes.

The continuous improvement industry has create acronyms that make the 8 waste types to be remembered more easily such as “DOWNTIME” or “TIMWOODS”, making them easier to recall these acronyms and are often used when training out the 8 process related wastes. “DOWNTIME” stands for Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Non-utilized Talent, Transportation, Inventory, Motion, and Extra-processing, while “TIMWOODS” covers Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Overproduction, Over-processing, Defects, and Skills (non-utilized). By understanding and mitigating these wastes, businesses can enhance their operational efficiency and deliver greater value.

The picture below helps to explain the 8 different types of waste in the TIMWOOS order of wastes. Its important to clarify that the wastes do not appear in a specific order or one has more importance than the other.

Process Waste

Table of Contents

Match the descripton to the correct waste

Feel free to test your knowledge of what the 8 waste types are. Press “Test your Knowledge” to Start the game. Then drag the type of waste below to the correct category, once you have placed all wastes in their categories click “Check Matches” Any areas where you are not sure the content below will help you to gain an understanding of the 8 different types of process wastes.









Unnecessary movement of products or goods.
Excessive stock and material accumulation.
Unnecessary movements by employees during work.
Delays and idle time waiting for the next step.
Making more than is immediately required.
More work or higher quality than required.
Products or services that are out of specification requiring resources to correct.
Underutilizing workers' skills or delegating tasks to overqualified workers.

Why its important to understand the 8 Wastes

Understanding the 8 Wastes is one of the initial basic concepts of the Lean part of Lean Six Sigma It should also be one of the first areas of focus when looking to improve processes. Once all types of wastes have been eliminated or reduced as much a possible in a process, it then makes sense to consider using Six Sigma to make statistical based improvement to processes.

The idea is to eliminate waste or anything that is not value add to the end product or service that the customer pays for. As mentioned previously in Lean Six Sigma, wastes are categorized into eight distinct types. Each type of waste is an inefficiency that costs your business time and resources. Below, we’ll go through why it’s crucial to understand and address these 8 Wastes.

By understanding the 8 Wastes, you have a framework to identify inefficiencies in your organization. Not every waste type will apply in every situation, but being aware of them is the first step in creating a more efficient, cost-effective, and customer-focused operation.

Type 1: Transport

Transport waste is the term for excessive movement of goods or materials within a process. This waste often gets mixed up with “Motion” which we will explain further on in this guide. When items are moved a longer distance than necessary, this is a waste. Examples include moving products between different locations, unnecessary handoffs, and excessive tool or equipment movement. Layout optimization using techniques such as 5S, process simplification with the use of spaghetti diagrams, and the elimination of pointless transfers are all necessary to reduce transport waste.

Actions in addressing this waste could also involve a full production process review making sure that all the steps in the process flow in a logical order that eliminates excess transport of materials, tools and equipment. An example of this would be automotive plant with raw materials fed into one side of the factory and complete cars coming out the other side. 

Transport waste

Type 2: Inventory

Inventory waste involves holding or stocking excess inventory beyond what is required for immediate use. It ties up money in materials impacting businesses free cash flow, takes up valuable space, and can result in waste from materials expiring or becoming obsolete. For example a business may stock too many finished goods, work-in-progress (WIP), or raw materials on hand. Implementing principles of just-in-time (JIT) can help to address this type of waste as well as improving demand forecasting, and cutting lead times are all part of managing inventory waste.

Excess Inventory Waste

Type 3: Motion

Motion waste is the term for unneeded movement or human motion within a process as mentioned earlier in the guide often confused with Transport waste. Motion is a waste when employees must make additional effort to access tools, equipment, or information. Examples include walking excess distances to retrieve supplies, looking for tools, or making awkward movements at workstations that are not designed well. Using 5S to optimize work areas, placing tools in convenient locations, and putting visual management strategies into practice are all steps in the reduction of motion waste.

Motion waste

Type 4: Waiting                                        

Waiting waste exists when people, information, or equipment are idle and there for not adding value due to delays or interruptions in the process. This waste usually causes decreased productivity and longer lead times for the output of products or services. Examples include awaiting authorizations, waiting to obtain supplies or resources, or setting up equipment. Streamlining workflows, improving communication, and implementing proactive scheduling are all necessary to reduce the waste of waiting.

Waiting Waste

Type 5: Over Processing

Over processing waste involves doing extra tasks or providing additional value value that the client does not need or want. This waste can be the result of excess resource usage, unnecessary inspections, or following  complex procedures. Examples of this waste include checking data multiple times, filling out additional unnecessary paperwork, or using complex tools when simple ones would do the job effectively and faster. Standardizing operating procedures, removing steps non value add steps and concentrating on value stream mapping are ways to eliminate over processing waste.

OverProcessing Waste

Type 6: Over Production

Overproduction waste refers to producing more goods or services than the customer demands. This waste causes an excess stock problem, higher costs associated producing more than is paid for, and potential obsolescence if the over produced products do not sell particularly in limited shelf life products. Examples include producing goods ahead of schedule, stockpiling goods, or operating equipment at maximum efficiency without taking customer demand into account. Implementing pull systems, balancing production with demand, and improving production planning are all necessary to reduce overproduction waste.

Overproduction waste

Type 7: Defects

Defect waste involves producing products that have defects or providing services that do not meet customer requirements. This waste results in reworking the product or service more than one time, scraping the product, dissatisfied customers, and extra costs associated with the defect. Examples include things like product flaws, documentation mistakes, or poor service. Implementing quality control measures, improving process standardization, and promoting a culture of continuous improvement are all effective steps that can be taken to reduce defect waste.

Type 8: Skills

Skills waste occurs when employees’ knowledge, skills, or capabilities are not fully used or leveraged by the business. This waste may be the result of poor job allocation, poor training, or insufficient communication. Examples include untapped potential, workers doing work that is beneath their level of expertise or skills, or a lack of cross-training opportunities. By offering training and development opportunities, encouraging employee empowerment, and fostering a culture of knowledge sharing, it is possible to reduce the loss of skills as well as making the business more flexible to industry changes in demands.

Unused Skills Waste


In conclusion understanding and identifying the types of process wastes can streamline processes, boost productivity, and promote continuous improvement when address to remove non value add activities. It takes a focus for identifying inefficiencies and a commitment to eliminating them to improve processes and making them lean. Eliminating waste enables businesses to build more effective, value-driven workplaces that ultimately improve customer satisfaction and business success it becomes more competitive in the market.


A: The 8 Wastes, also known as the “8 Deadly Wastes” or “Muda,” are categories of non-value-adding activities that occur in a process. They include defects, overproduction, waiting, non-utilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion, and extra processing.

A: Identifying and eliminating the 8 Wastes is crucial for process improvement because they represent activities that do not contribute to customer value and add unnecessary cost, time, or effort. By reducing or eliminating these wastes, organizations can improve efficiency, quality, and overall productivity.

A: Defects refer to products or services that do not meet customer requirements and need rework, repair, or replacement. Defects waste time, materials, and effort, and can lead to customer dissatisfaction, additional costs, and delays.

A: Overproduction waste occurs when more products, parts, or information are produced or processed than what is needed at a given time. It can result in excessive inventory, increased lead time, unnecessary costs, and potential obsolescence.

A: Waiting waste refers to idle time experienced by employees, equipment, or materials in a process. Waiting can occur due to bottlenecks, delays, or imbalances in the workflow, leading to decreased productivity, increased lead time, and dissatisfaction for both customers and employees.

A: Non-utilized talent waste occurs when organizations do not fully leverage the skills, knowledge, and creativity of their employees. It can result from not empowering or involving employees in process improvement initiatives, leading to missed opportunities for innovation and growth.

A: Transportation waste refers to unnecessary movement or conveyance of materials, products, or information. Excessive transportation can result in increased lead time, higher costs, and potential damage or loss of goods.

A: Inventory waste involves having excessive or unnecessary inventory in a process. It ties up capital, occupies space, and can lead to increased costs, obsolescence, and difficulties in detecting defects or quality issues.

A: Motion waste refers to unnecessary or excessive movement of people within a process. It can include walking long distances, searching for tools or information, or performing awkward or repetitive motions. Motion waste can cause physical strain, fatigue, and decreased productivity.

A: Extra processing waste occurs when additional or non-essential steps are performed in a process, adding no value to the final product or service. It leads to increased time, effort, and costs without improving quality or customer satisfaction.


Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is a seasoned continuous improvement manager with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma. With over 10 years of real-world application experience across diverse sectors, Daniel has a passion for optimizing processes and fostering a culture of efficiency. He's not just a practitioner but also an avid learner, constantly seeking to expand his knowledge. Outside of his professional life, Daniel has a keen Investing, statistics and knowledge-sharing, which led him to create the website, a platform dedicated to Lean Six Sigma and process improvement insights.

All Posts

Download Template

Free Lean Six Sigma Templates

Improve your Lean Six Sigma projects with our free templates. They're designed to make implementation and management easier, helping you achieve better results.

Other Guides