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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

DOWNTIME and the Eight Wastes

Acronyms can be a very effective tool for remembering new concepts, objectives, and processes. We use acronyms in virtually all aspects of our lives to aid our memories. In learning the Eight Wastes (of which I prefer over the 7 wastes for highlighting the human element of waste) the acronym DOWNTIME is a useful memory aid.




Non-utilized Resources/Talent




Excess Processing

This is especially effective in relating to value added work and non-value added work.

In manufacturing or service orientated processes there are a series of steps that make up the total lead time to provide the customer with a product or service. This lead time is characterized by value added activity and non-value added activity as shown below.

Now of course we know that our goal is to reduce the waste or non-values added activity so as to maximize the value to our customer. This value creating activity is the only activity the customer is willing to pay for resulting in the company paying for the non value added activity. Non value added activity essentially delays the time to complete the product or service which in essence can be characterized as DOWNTIME.

By focusing on reducing or eliminating the Eight Wastes associated with DOWNTIME we can shorten the lead time to the customer as shown above. This will result in lower costs, higher capacity for more demand, and increased customer satisfaction which are all desirable to grow your business profitably.

Using the acronym DOWNTIME to remember the Eight Wastes is an effective tie in to the concept of value added activity and how it relates to the cycle time of satisfying your customers.


  1. Great article! I love the DOWN TIME acronym!

  2. Tim,

    Thank you so much for making LEAN so simple that I could easily understand the process to achieve the desired result.

    I seek your permission to use some of your material, thots and ideas to implement at my workplace.



  3. Excellent
    I like the Downtime concept - means it can be linked to OEE / Uptime TPM concepts

    Much better than the enemy "TIM WOODS" - as that adds to S (skills) to cover under-utilised people.

    I often use 9 and include the C - complexity and we often get obsessed with making it more complex - its all waste. Tim C Woods.
    Can go for ever though !


  4. This is a huge concept. Some studies say that only 5% of any given organization's time is spent with Value Added Activities. UniPart from the UK has completed a study that shows less than 1% of company time is spent on Value Added Activity. If this was raised to 2%, what do you think would happen to the Stock Price?

  5. the c for complex is interesting. I see that as a subset of over processing but will note it later. Another i is inspection, which is almost always NVA (or more correct, Non Value Added, Necessary) Shown as VA above, an ideally running mfg concern (at sigma level of 6) does not require inspection.

  6. I think complexity does not necessarily come under Muda (waste) but rather Mura (unevenness, fluctuation, variation). 6 sigma and activities realted to reducing variation come under the M of Mura. We sometimes focus so much on waste that we forget about Mura and Muri. These are all wasteful practices that need to be eliminated.

  7. Hi
    Inspection, shipping, testing should not be considered as VA activities, since we are not transforming the product, in LEAN philosophy, JIDOKA stands for built in quality, which mean we have to perform right first time operations, and inspecting, or testing are just process steps we are adding to our normal flow to ensure we did it right but not necessary adding value to our product, there is an another classification call non value added but necessary activities just like transportation, we know that teletransportation has not been invented yet so, we need to have the material shipped somehow, but again inspection is always NON value added