What are the 8 kinds of waste in Lean Six Sigma?

Wasted time, wasted resources, wasted effort. These are the banes of facility management. All continuous improvement programs and computerized maintenance systems strive for the common goal of reducing this waste as much as possible. Certain industry leaders believe that anywhere between 5 percent and 30 percent of sales are lost because of poor quality.

However, before you tackle this common issue, it’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of exactly what waste you’re seeking to eliminate. Lean Six Sigma categorizes waste into eight key areas, packaged appropriately with the acronym DOWNTIME.


Defects. Whenever you manufacture a product or service that fails to meet customer specifications, you create a defected item. This creates, at the very least, a need for additional resources to correct the issue or, worst case scenario, a complete loss.

Some experts even believe that the average firm loses around 5% to 30% of gross sales due to the costs linked with poor quality.


Overproduction. If you misjudge your supply and demand, you can overproduce. This leads to wasted resources in managing the overflow, either by discounting it or by storing it.


Waiting. Bottlenecks in your manufacturing process can generate waiting waste. This can be in the form of equipment or labor that is not being maximally employed.


Non-Utilized talent. Managing your employees and contractors can be one of the trickiest areas to minimize waste. Team members who are not engaged or trained in your processes can generate waste as well as those who are under or overemployed.


Transportation. Excess transportation of tools, equipment, or information can generate wasted time and effort as well as inefficient route planning if technicians must travel between locations.


Inventory. We live in an age of just-in-time everything. That means anytime you have inventory, you have an opportunity to reduce the waste costs associated with managing it.


Motion. The movement of team members, information, parts, and equipment can generate a great deal of small waste that can quickly add up over time. Understanding the layout of your equipment as well as ergonomic issues can increase employee movement efficiency. Well-organized items, tools, and product reduces the time looking for things.


Extra Processing. Any action that does not contribute to producing your end-product or service may generate waste. Identifying those unneeded processing steps can save time and resources.

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