The 7 Wastes, they rob us blind!

Getting your teams SEEING & ELIMINATING WASTE is a grass root fundamental in business nowadays.

Sounds obvious really, but how many people came to work today to spend their time on waste? Some maybe! But not most. So what is waste, and how do you identify it?

Some waste is obvious. But other forms of waste are more difficult to spot or to solve. I’m sure in most organisations it’s sometimes very difficult to identify what is waste and what is not, but make no mistake the root of all unprofitable activity links back to them.

7 Wastes Infographic

Identifying and eliminating waste should not be a rare event conducted by process re-engineering every few years. It should be a regular process, built into regular iterations, determined as much as possible by your people, and tackled in small, timely steps.

Making improvements little-but-often in this way creates a culture of continuous improvement – a learning environment – which for some organisations could potentially give you the edge over competitors.

The 7 Wastes: (These 7 Wastes come to work every day, never have a day’ off sick or take a holiday, they don’t pick-up a salary, BUT they rob us blind! Meet the HIDDEN Employee TIM WOOD)

T – Transport: The conveyance or transportation of material or parts adds no value

I –  Inventory: Inventory is any quantities of parts or material held within the system which are not being worked on.

M – Motion: Any motion by operators or machines when carrying out cycles of work which does not add value, IS WASTE!

W – Waiting: occurs when either material or operators wait for machines to complete cycles of work.

O – Overproduction: occurs when product is manufactured in excess of customer demand or in advance of customer demand.

O – Over-Processing: Where resource or effort is applied to a product or process that adds cost but no value for the customer.

D – Defects: (including all rework): Any manufactured product which does not meet customer requirements after the normal process, IS WASTE!

7 Wastes within a process

For further information on how we can help you eliminate these wastes, call 0330 311 2820 or email

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One of the Least used Tools – Standardised Work

Standardised Work is one of the most powerful but least used tools within business, yet it is one of the foundations to Lean Manufacturing

From my experience “without standards we do not have continuous improvement only chaos”.

The declarations I have heard, “we don’t make cars”, “You see, we are different”, “We’re unique….this isn’t an assembly line!

My response to such statements is “everyone works a process that process can either be destroying or creating value added for the customer, which would you rather it be. Whether you’re building cars or delivering life-saving patient care, it takes a sequence of highly coordinated tasks and processes to deliver the end result. When this sequence of tasks is standardised, you’re on your way to fundamentally improving and eliminating significant sources of waste.

Standardised work is the simple understanding that every task that can be repeated requires a written instruction of the most efficient and effective way to complete it to the highest quality Standard. We then use the selected standard work process each time the task is performed ensuring that the same results are achieved, in the same amount of time, regardless of who completes the task.

Now, we must understand here that the first step is to document what the current best practice is, this may be not be delivering the outcome you require currently, but without first understanding, how will you control any changes and what improvements have had what effect? We can’t, it would be guess work!

Key Elements of Standard Work

  • TAKT
  • Process Capacity Table
  • Work Combination Table
  • Work Layout
  • Standard Operating Procedure

Standard Work Documents

Takt Time – “Takt” is a German word which refers to the pace or beat of a musical composition, the metronome. The calculation of Takt time gives us the rate of production for meeting customer demand

Work sequence – “The time for an employee to do a prescribed task and return to his original stance.” – Taiichi Ohno
Standard inventory – In manufacturing this refers to parts, but in other sectors it can refer to applications, data inputs or other resources necessary to perform the job.

Bear in mind the following

Involve employees in the process – they are the ones who determine the best practice for each task. This also helps ensure engagement and ultimately adherence to the standard work.

Focus on the details – it must be in-depth to be useful in reducing variation. No detail should be omitted. Even the little nuances need to be understood, these are improvements that can be engineered out. (I can remember a process I worked with where the Associate had to lean on one part for the other part to fit, a stack up of tolerances had occurred. This knack had to be written in the standard work until we could engineer it out, imagine the amount of lost time/production if others weren’t aware of this)

Use visuals – Images, photographs, diagrams and examples will help bring your standard work definition to life and increase the likelihood of consistent compliance. A picture is worth a 1000 words.

Make it accessible – The documentation must be accessible at the time and place that the work is to be performed.

Innovate – While you don’t want employees deviating from the standard work process, there must be a method to give consideration to changes when new conditions or new ideas warrant revision. A governance process will increase the likelihood that changes will be analysed and approved rather than being implemented ad-hoc.


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The Process of Improvement for any Business


In standardising a process you want to be able to see the Abnormal from Normal conditions. When the process is disrupted by an obstacle or issue, you can see it. The Standardise, Do, Check, Act cycle.


Now you can begin to systematically simplify, Combine, Eliminate the issues to Stabilise the process. Whether it’s achieving TAKT, a cycle time, changeover, order entry, bid-no bid process, etc. The Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle.

Standardise and Stabilise play off of one another. (and you must be applying the rigorous PDCA management process as a business, if you can’t do that or sustain it ultimately you will fail)


The drive towards perfection should always be sort within our processes across all functions, departments, businesses. This is optimisation, in driving for continuous improvement. Once we have standardised and stabilised our processes internally we can also start to look externally within our supply chain and support the SDCA and PDCA within those businesses that are struggling, remember we want a way of understanding the Abnormal from Normal conditions, no reason we can’t apply that in measuring our supply chain and why not pass on the learning, we all benefit. (and I don’t mean how some OEM’s have applied this before, internally a mess but let’s concentrate and beat up the supplier, short termism!)

Optimise also goes hand in hand with Grow in my eyes, all of the improvements align to our Strategy, and our Strategy will have new business, innovation in our products, so optimise and utilise all of those resources to ensure future growth.


Apply the SDCA, PDCA into Sales and Marketing processes. Integrate the tools and techniques of Lean Manufacturing, Operational Excellence with the proven sales methods and drive sustainable increases in sales performance and profitability.

In improving the efficiency of our company’s sales processes, we enable the sales and Customer facing teams to reduce waste and duplication and free up much needed Customer contact time in the sales cycle creating greater customer value.

As the orders come in, we come back to our Standardise and Stabilise cycle and the cycle repeats.

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