Lean management and the fatal 8 waste types of DOWNTIME

July 22, 2019


lean management, any operation that does not add value for the customer must be considered waste, and every effort should be made to avoid that waste. In this article, we will show you the fatal 8 waste types of DOWNTIME to be aware of them while managing your restaurant.

Eight types of waste have been specified and targeted. The best acronym for these 8 waste types is DOWNTIME.

Let us know what each of the letters stands for:

  1. Defects
  2. Overproduction
  3. Waiting
  4. Not-Utilizing Talent
  5. Transporting
  6. Inventory
  7. Motion Waste
  8. Excess Processing


  1. D is for Defects:

The first element that might cause waste is defects, defaults, and mistakes, which need additional time, resources, and money to be fixed. For example, your customer will not be satisfied with being delivered the wrong food to his table in your restaurant.

What might cause defects in a restaurant?

  • Misunderstanding your customer’s needs.
  • Poor control of quality and inventory.
  • Poor kitchen design and equipment
  • Lack of standards.
  • Weak or missing processes.
  • Uncontrolled inventory levels


To eliminate defects as much as possible you have to choose the right product in the first place. Since it requires a lot of time and money to solve any problem concerning improper recourses, unplanned operations, and poor quality. Although the cost of the inspection is considered a type of waste, it is advisable to not reduce inspection unless you have created perfect quality through mistake-proofing techniques.

It is impossible to completely eradicate any waste, but you can avoid defects through applying standardized work plans, stricter quality control at all levels, a full understanding of work requirements and customer needs, and using checklists.


  1. O is for Overproduction:

Overproduction comes from keeping producing dishes, even when customers either aren’t ready for it or don’t need it, so you end up with too much dishes, too early, that the customer doesn’t necessarily want. Overproduction may result in increasing inventory cost, labor cost, and facility cost. For example, overproduction could happen when you produce components before the next stage in the process is ready to receive them, or when you create meals that are not eaten or partially eaten.

Overproduction may happen because of:

  • Just-in-case production based on anticipation.
  • Unclear customer needs.
  • Long preparation time.
  • Attempts to avoid long preparation time.
  • Poorly applied automation.


You can overcome the issue of overproduction by establishing a reasonable workflow for the benefit of your customer and to implement a just-in-time model of production.


  1. W is for Waiting:

Waiting happens when the dish is ready for the next step, but the process is not ready to accommodate it. Waiting involves a delay in the production flow process where work has to stop for some reason.

Waiting may come from:

  • Unplanned downtime because of poor quality production.
  • The next person in the assembly line is overwhelmed.
  • Something broke down.
  • Running out of some ingredients.
  • Very long preparation
  • Poor kitchen layout.
  • unqualified
  • Poor communications.


You can handle this issue by hiring the right staff who can handle the workload, controlling quality and inventory, ensuring that equipment is operational at all times, and cross-training your employees.


  1. N is for Non-utilized talent:

Not-Utilizing Talent occurs when qualified staff’s members are idle to wait for a process to be completed by another staff member, or when you don’t utilize them effectively according to their knowledge, skills, or talent.

This type of waste occurs when:

  • Teamwork is absent.
  • There are no training programs.
  • The communication is poor.
  • You, as a manager, refuse to include employees in the problem-solving process.
  • Your management is poor.


If you fail to eliminate this type of waste, you will not be able to make use of the human resources available to you. Accordingly, it will difficult for you to effectively overcome the other seven DOWNTIME wastes.

The solution is to empower your employees, modify any mistake in their training, and get rid of micromanaging. You should treat qualified and experienced employees as process experts who know what they’re doing.


  1. T is for Transportation:

Waste might be caused by the unnecessary movement of people or items. Too much transportation results in increasing costs, wasting time, increasing the possibility of product damage and deterioration.

Transportation waste can be a result of:

  • Poor layout.
  • Ineffective workflow.
  • Poorly-designed operations.


If you want to defeat transportation issues, you shall consider simplifying processes, repairing physical layouts.


  1. I is for Inventory Excess:

Having too much inventory can cause a real issue. It requires extra floor space to maintain excess inventory, and more people to handle it. Lean management applies the pull system that produces the product at a time when customers demand it. This will save you the effort of trying to figure out how to sell the excess product when there is no demand for it.

What may cause excess Inventory:

  • Overproduction.
  • Poor layout.
  • Mismatched production speeds.
  • Unreliable suppliers.
  • Misunderstood customer needs.

To eliminate excess inventory, you have to adjust the workflow and adopt the Just-In-Time process where you can produce enough to satisfy your customer.


  1. M is for Motion:

Motion Waste is A result of the extra movement that can expose employees to danger and cause overexertion injuries that may reduce employees’ productivity. This will lead you to hire new employees and train them, which will definitely cost time and money.

Here are some causes of excessive motion:

  • Poor layout and design.
  • Shared tools, machines, and equipment.
  • Lack of effective management of the kitchen or the dining room.


This issue can be solved by placing things to be easily accessible. You may also consider rearranging your restaurant layout to minimize the distance between stations and make it easier to reach things that are often used.


  1. E is for Excess Processing:

This is the final type of waste that comes from any unnecessary effort expended in order to complete a task. It might be unnecessary steps or re-taking orders.

Excess Processing can arise from:

  • Misunderstood customer’s needs
  • Employees’ defaults.
  • Poor communication.
  • Poor control.
  • Lack of standards.
  • Overdesigned equipment.
  • Producing upon forecast.


It can be fixed by instituting standard operating procedures, empowering employees, implementing J-I-T model, and do everything you can to decrease processes without sacrificing quality.


Any type of waste will leave you with wasted time, efforts, recourses, and -the most important- money. The solution is to recognize these issues early and take the right lean actions to correct and solve them.