In a business environment, efficiency and productivity are affected by many factors. Understanding all of these can be quite complex. That’s why it’s useful to come up with some simple tools to make it easier to address problems. One such tool is the acronym DOWNTIME. Each letter in this word stands for one of the “8 wastes.”

This acronym is used by Six Sigma, as well as by many efficiency and time management experts. It’s a simple way to learn how to overcome many workplace problems and increase overall efficiency. Let’s take a look at what DOWNTIME means and what we can learn from it.

The 8 Wastes of DOWNTIME

To begin with, the 8 wastes of DOWNTIME are:

Non-value added processing
Inventory excess
Motion waste
Employee or people waste

We can now take a closer look at each of these 8 wastes.

Defects are the bane of any business. They can be due to defective materials or errors in the production process. They can also be the result of malfunctions in equipment or poor training of the workforce.

Overproduction can be a problem because it means that you have produced more than your customer wants or needs (and is willing to pay for). This results in having excessive inventory that is not profitable. The time and materials you used to create this could have been better applied elsewhere.

Waiting is almost always time poorly spent. During work hours, waiting usually means that there is a gap or lack of planning at some point in the process.

Non-value added processing refers to work being done that adds no real value to end product. This could mean adding features that the customer doesn’t want or that are redundant in some way.

Transportation waste occurs when materials or parts are transported around the building. This is a waste of time and equipment that can be solved by making the process more efficient or by creating a more logical layout.

Inventory excess occurs when the supply of a product is greater than the customer’s demand.

Motion waste refers to movement of people, equipment or resources that is not productive or profitable.

Employee or people waste occurs when people do not fulfill their true potential. This can be due to lack of team spirit, poor communication on the part of management or a lack of understanding concerning goals.

Overcoming the 8 Wastes Using DOWNTIME

The 8 wastes of DOWNTIME can be used by managers and business owners to understand areas that need improvement. Inefficiency can take many forms, but almost every possibility is covered by one of the 8 wastes.

Of course, it’s not enough to merely recognize the problem. Once it is identified, there has to be a practical plan to overcome it. By addressing the DOWNTIME list in a systematic way, productivity can be improved in any workplace.

Additional Resources