November 2

8 Types of Waste: A Guide to Seeing Office and Manufacturing Inefficiencies


The 8 types of waste are evident in every business. Here’s what they are and some examples for both manufacturing and office processes.

What are the 8 types of waste? The 8 types of waste can be referred to as TIM WOODS. This stands for:

  • Transportation (Moving information and product around)
  • Inventory (Processing work in batches)
  • Movement (Movement of people between processes)
  • Waiting and delays (Waiting for the previous step to finish or to help)
  • Over processing (Over complicating the process)
  • Over Producing (Producing too much when it’s not needed by the customer)
  • Defects (Not producing right first time and creating any gaps to plan)
  • Skills (Not using people to their full capabilities)

The 8 types of waste can be seen in any process… Across any business and industry. Here are some examples.

TIM WOODS in Your Business:

It’s easier to see wasted activities in a manufacturing process. After all, you’re making a product that can physically be seen. This means that the raw material you need, the defects created, the space used up and machine capacity can all be physically seen.

In an office environment, it’s a little harder to see the 8 types of waste. They’re still there. You just need to look for subtle differences than that of manufacturing.


The 8 Types of Waste


In Manufacturing – This involves moving the product around excessively. The idea is to process a product in flow. If you’re moving them around, you can’t be adding value and making more. The time and travel it takes to move them is lost opportunity and adds to the time and resource in that process.

Examples of Transportation Waste Manufacturing :

  • Moving jobs from site to site
  • Moving jobs from one part of the business to the next
  • Couriers

In the Office – transportation needs a little more of an eagle eye. You can’t always see the transportation as easily. But if we think like the product or information, we can start to see wasteful activities like double handling paperwork, and any information that travels around from site to client.

Examples of  Transportation Waste in the Office:

  • Excessive hand-offs between departments
  • Email attachments
  • movement of paperwork and files
  • Excessive travelling to client meetings


You need inventory to process work. The problem is having too much at any one time. This waste causes a number of problems. You lose vital space with product that is sitting around too long. The more inventory you have, the harder it is to see any defects if they occur, too.

Examples of Inventory in Manufacturing:

  • Any form of batches being processed
  • Expediting and chasing work
  • Large amounts of work in progress

Examples in the Office:

  • Holding on to paperwork and processing them in one go
  • Lots of work in progress waiting to be completed
  • Excessive filing cabinets and storage


Any form of movement of people or equipment is a waste. If you think about it. If someone’s moving, trying to find something, then they can’t be adding value to the product. This is the same in both a manufacturing and an office environment. Here are some examples:

Examples of Movement in Manufacturing:

  • Too much movement of operators during the assembly or build process
  • Searching for information, equipment or tooling
  • Excessive walking during set up and changing over from one job to the next

Examples of Movement in an Office:

  • Searching for information or files
  • Finding data on a shared drive
  • Copying and pasting information between different IT systems
  • Excessive walking between equipment like photocopier or other processes

Waiting and Delays

Waiting is normally easier to see. However, they can be subtle delays like a few hours lost here and there. The problem is that they all add up and cost long delays in the end to end process.

The stark reality is that when you’re waiting for someone or something, you’re not adding value to the product or service. It’s dead time being eaten up.

Examples of Waiting In Manufacturing:

  • Waiting for a machine to finish its cycle (and not doing something productive)
  • The machine waiting for an operator to load it again
  • Waiting for work to be checked and signed off
  • Waiting for a machine to be fixed or to be told what to do next
  • Waiting for a previous process to provide the next job

Examples of Waiting in the Office:

  • Waiting for decisions and sign-offs in the process
  • Waiting for decision on reviews
  • Waiting for information from clients
  • Waiting for work from a previous process

Over Production

This is a waste that many businesses fall in the trap of. Its the waste of producing too much too soon. It’s typically in the form of sending too much onto the next process – more than they can process right now. This then just clogs the system and slows it down to a crawl, while people clamber around to push it through. When we process more than we can cope with, we cause bottlenecks and stress.

Examples of Over Production in Manufacturing:

  • Producing large jobs in one go that are aren’t needed now
  • working to individual targets, instead of team targets (E.G. a piece rate bonus, vs a team productivity bonus)

Examples of Over Production in the Office:

  • Producing too much paperwork in one go
  • Purchasing stationary or items before it’s needed (or far too much)
  • Completing activities before they’re needed
  • Printing excessive paperwork or emails when they’re not needed

Over Processing

Over process waste can be identified as any activity that doesn’t add value. Often, it’s in the form of doing too much and over complicating a process… when it doesn’t need to be that way. We get the job done with exactly what we need.

Examples of Over Processing in Manufacturing:

  • Too many inspection steps
  • Re-processing work
  • Excessive quality check lists
  • Excessive sign-offs
  • Over the top tolerances

Examples of Over Processing in the Office:

  • Duplication of paperwork or files
  • Unread reports with excessive data
  • Re-entering data across systems
  • Excessive sign-offs or reviews


Defects represent any forms of errors, as well as gaps to plan. It could be the fact that the sales team should have processed 15 quotes today, but in fact they achieved 10. This is a gap to plan that needs improving. In terms of traditional errors, defects are anything that stops someone taking the information or job given to them, and processing without asking any questions.

Examples of Defects in Manufacturing:

  • Defective product that needs rework or correction
  • Missing information on job sheets
  • Incorrect drawings or components
  • Defects created during the set up of a job

Examples of Defects in the Office:

  • Calculation errors in billing or invoicing
  • Missing or incorrect data being passed on
  • Not collecting the right information at quote stage
  • Filing errors


This answers the question: how do we hire, train and keep the best people? It’s also about empowering and developing individuals, so they can grow and develop. Some of these wastes can be seen in the following:

  • Over relying on people not processes
  • A team that is not crossed trained
  • Management command and control style (rather than empowering and coaching staff to develop)
  • Inadequate tools to support employees in their job

Related Questions

How Do I Embed the 8 Wastes into Daily Thinking? The best thing to do is to create a visual board with TIM Woods down the left hand side. Then on a daily basis, get the team to observe where the waste is. Take notes on post-its for each observation. When you have done it for about 10 minutes, pick the one action to take to eliminate or reduce the impact of the waste.

By repeating this daily, your teams will understand the 8 wastes and also become accustomed to making process fixes to reduce or eliminate the 8 types of waste.


Who Should Eliminate This Waste? Everyone in the business. It shouldn’t be left to one or two people. Managers should lead the initiative but they must empower the teams to take action and look for waste every day.





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