7 types of waste (Muda)

7 types of waste  (Muda)

Waste is any kind of activity that uses resources but does not increase value for the customer. Therefore, the elimination of waste offers companies the opportunity to reduce costs and increase the efficiency. In the classic Lean-Production-Doctrine Lean-Production-Doctrine, according to Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production system, seven types of waste are classified that do influence each other. These can easily be memorised using the mnemonic TIMWOOD.

      Lean approaches to avoidance
T = Transport
  • Material flow
  • Product-, value-, process orientation
  • pull control through Kanban
  • Just-in-time supply
I = Inventory
  • Just-in-time supply
  • Pull-Steuerung mittels Kanbanpull control through KanbanTaktzeit
  • Cycle time
  • Supplier coupling
  • Introduction of a generic pull system
  • Introduction of Kanban control
  • Reduction of batch size
  • Introduction of single-piece-flow
M = Motion
  • Standardisation
  • 6 s-concept
  • Addresses and footprints
W = Waiting
  • Multi machine/ process handling
  • Material flow in U-layout
  • SMED
  • Andon Board
O = Over-production
O = Over-engineering
  • Kaizen
  • Quality circle
  • Suggestion scheme
  • Reduction in complexity of the process and the deployed inputs
D = Defects


Whenever material is transported, costs for personnel and energy are incurred and no added value is created. Hence, it should be checked if transport distances could be shortened or avoided by e.g. placing workstations or by pulsing and linking work steps.


Inventories are an important part within the entire value chain: initially as raw materials, then as "Work in Process" (WIP) and finally as finished products. However, inventories over and above the current needs are waste, as they cause costs in logistics and tie up capital. Standardised and stable processes reduce the necessity of high inventories and reduce waste through transport.


Unnecessary movements such as handing of tools, or walking to a material dispensing station, lower the productivity, can cause poor posture and thus strain the musculoskeletal system of the employees. At this point ergonomic principles in work place design must be acknowledged in order to increase the efficiency of employees, and to avoid work accidents and loss of quality. The consequences of unnecessary movements often are waiting and transportation.


Waiting for e.g. the end of a processing cycle of a machine or the unscheduled waiting for material replenishment or because of a disruption is waste, as no value is added during this time. The most severe impact is the increase in the lead-time for manufacturing the products. Waiting times can also influence the motivation of - under-utilised- employees. They can be avoided by better process planning, but can also be bridged by multi-station handling or job enlargement of the employees

Over production

Over-production production counts as waste, since more is produced than is purchased, resulting in inventories and therefore respective costs (warehousing and inventory management) and liquidity losses (due to tied up capital). Despite the value creation, it is not certain, whether the goods can be sold and thus become turnover relevant for the company. The cause, on the one hand, is often the so called "optimal batch size", in which the ratio between the set-up costs and inventory costs for pending production orders is (in many ERP/MRP systems automatically) optimised - even if there is no real sales for the calculated quantity. The reason on the other hand is the optimisation of capacity utilisation, since investment intensive machines and plants should not be unproductive if possible.

Wrong processes/ technologies

Waste is caused by outdated or immature processes as well as by over-engineering. Processes or manufacturing methods without necessity for the finished product become overly complex. Therefore, processes should be reviewed, continuously improved and modernised in order not to waste resources and to increase production.


Rejects or rework due to lack of quality is obviously waste, as the value creation has already (partially) been completed when the product is identified as faulty by inspection. The causes often are malfunctioning machines or employees making mistakes, defective third-party components or uncalibrated measuring tools. The goal is to eliminate the cause, reduce the reject rate and provide the desired quality.