The lean manufacturing framework that was originally developed by Taiichi Ohno for Toyota motor company has applications across every industry today. By utilizing the concepts of lean, organizations can begin to remove wastes from their processes while making better use of their talent and resources. The original 7 wastes identified by Ohno have expanded to include one more related to an organization’s employees (non-utilized talent). You can easily recall the 8 wastes of lean by using the acronym, “DOWNTIME”, which stands for:

DefectsOverproductionWaiting Non-utilized talentTransportation excessInventory excessMotion excessExcess processing

Benefits of Eliminating the 8 Wastes

By removing as much of these 8 wastes as possible, organizations experience many benefits. Among the benefits of removing the 8 wastes are

Increased profits. This is experienced thanks lower overhead and better utilization of time and resources.

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More satisfied customers. Your customers will appreciate your ability to deliver higher quality products more quickly and affordably.

Improved operational performance. By streamlining and automating your business processes, overall operational performance is improved.

Lower risks. Your product quality improves through lean practices. If you implement software as part of your lean management, you can also achieve better traceability and compliance to regulations.

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Learn about the 8 Wastes of Lean and Solutions for Reducing or Removing Them

Below is a summary of each of the 8 wastes, along with examples and solution ideas that may help you consider how to apply lean concepts to your organization.


Description: Products, services or information are incomplete or inaccurateExamples: Products or services fail inspection and require rework, review or retesting; products are returned due to defectsSolution ideas: Clarify operating procedures or specifications; look for additional capable suppliers; address training needs; improve quality assurance steps; utilize automated systems to ensure steps are not overlooked


Description: Making something earlier or faster than needed; making more than what is neededExamples: Tying up capital in stock, raw materials, work in progress or finished goods without having adequate demandSolution ideas: Reduce large batches; build trusted supplier relationships in order to be able to reliably schedule closer to when needed; use value stream mapping, process mapping and analytical tools


Description: Idle time while waiting for materials, equipment, parts, people or informationExamples: Machine downtime; bottlenecks; system downtime; slow system response time; waiting on approvals; waiting for material from vendors or for information from customersSolution ideas: Identify bottlenecks; utilize planning and scheduling solutions for better timing; upgrade systems; use CRM and ERP software for streamlined flow of data and better communication

Non-utilized talent

Description: Not fully utilizing the experience, skills, knowledge or creativity of your teamExamples: Not listening to team members’ improvement suggestions; not recognizing employee contributions, strengths and talentsSolution ideas: Encourage employee suggestions; create open door policy; provide cross-training; form worker teams to solve problems; encourage employees to take ownership of their processes to promote involvement

Transportation excess

Description: The unnecessary movement of products, equipment or materialsExamples: Poor layouts require extra forklift movement; multiple storage locations cause excess transportation of materialsSolution ideas: Reduce distances items must travel; address space issues; use process maps

Inventory excess

Description: Over-accumulation of stock beyond what is necessary to serve the customerExamples: Stock and work in process exceeds what is necessary for Just In Time; stagnant materials; excess inventory buildupSolution ideas: Utilize an inventory management system for better coordination, planning and reduction of inventory; set purchasing rules; use FIFO to reduce obsolescence

Motion excess

Description: Any movement by the team that is not of value to the customerExamples: Repetitive keystrokes; extra walking, sorting, stacking, searching that creates inefficiencySolution ideas: Eliminate double data-entry by integrating systems; reduce extra motions that lengthen duration of task

Excess processing

Description: Any additional steps in a process that do not add value to the customerExamples: Reformatting; adding extra unneeded features; continuing to do something of low value because it’s always been done that waySolution ideas: Identify what is needed and why; automate; generate and send reports directly out of system rather than re-creating as spreadsheets; remove extra steps that add no value

Next Steps

Solutions to eliminating the 8 wastes include implementing business software, such as Inventory Management Systems, Enterprise Resource Planning or other solutions. As business process engineers and technical consultants, we would be glad to discuss how these software solutions can help you to automate, streamline and better control your operations in order to facilitate lean practices. We can also provide you with an estimated ROI in such systems. Please contact us to learn more.