Lean“, is a systematic method for the elimination of waste (“Muda“) within a manufacturing system or company.

This lean page is gives you our internal only form which is for submitting your Lean ideas to Sapphire for implementation and the ‘DOWNTIME’ explanation.

Lean can often be counter intuitive, (e.g. it can be more lean not to mass produce), the easiest way to remember the eight deadly wastes of lean is by using the acronym; DOWNTIME. Downtime stands for:


Mistakes that require additional time, resources, and money to fix. In a manufacturing process, a defect might involve a defective part that has to be remade. Some causes::

Completely eradicating any form of waste is impossible, but defects can certainly be limited by the application of standardized work plans, more stringent quality control at all levels, a full understanding of work requirements and customer needs, and simple job aids such as checklists.



This is when a company, department or person produces more of something than the demand requires. In some organisations, workers just blindly keep producing, even when those who receive their output either aren’t ready for it or don’t need it. This is a big flaw as it can tie up significant working capital. It’s especially common in manufacturing, but it can occur in any workplace situation in which there’s a bottleneck. Overproduction may occur due to:

The solution to overproduction is to establish a reasonable work flow for the benefit of the customer.



This occurs whenever work has to stop for some reason: because the next person in line is overwhelmed, because something broke down, because you’re waiting for approval or materials, or because you’ve run out of something. Causes can include:
  • Unbalanced workloads
  • Unplanned downtime
  • Long set-up times
  • Producing to a forecast
  • Insufficient staffing
  • Work absences
  • Poor process quality
  • Poor communication

Whatever the cause, some workers have to wait for a bottleneck to be cleared. One way to address this is the need to provide adequate team support or external resource to handle the workload at the bottlenecks, be careful in doing so that you don’t create monetary waste.


Not-Utilising Talent

This waste is being increasingly seen within businesses today. Not or under-utilising peoples’ talents, skills and knowledge can have a detrimental effect on an organisation. Companies can experience great benefits when recognising the value of skills and improvement ideas from all levels of the business and can suffer when not effectively engaging in the process. This can typically be seen with:
  • Assigning staff to wrong tasks
  • Wasteful admin tasks
  • Poor communication
  • Lack of teamwork
  • Poor management
  • Insufficient training
If the above list sounds oddly familiar, it should: many of these failings are the same ones that result in a lack of employee engagement, which can hamstring any organisation’s productivity. Key solutions include empowering your employees, stop micromanaging and increase training. Sometimes this may occur because people just aren’t aware that someone has a hidden skill set they have never spoken of, if this is you, then speak up!



Waste caused by moving things around. This is less of a problem in a business office than in a manufacturing plant, since most of what white collar workers “transport” can be sent by email for example. Otherwise, too much transportation tends to increase costs, wastes time, increases the likelihood of product damage and deterioration, and can result in poor communication. In general, transportation waste can be caused by:

  • Poor plant/office layout
  • Unnecessary or excessive steps in the process
  • Misaligned process flow
  • Poorly-designed systems

Limiting transportation waste can be easily addressed by common-sense efforts such as simplifying processes, repairing physical layouts, handling products less often, and making distances between steps as short as possible.

Inventory Excess

This waste occurs when there is supply in excess of real customer demand, which masks real production. Causes include:
  • Overproduction and buffers
  • Poor monitoring systems
  • Mismatched production speeds
  • Unreliable suppliers
  • Long set-up times
  • Misunderstood customer needs

In removing excess inventory space can be created, however make sure that you don’t create waiting time through items not being available or that the cost increase outweighs the space gained.


Motion Waste

 This is where there is any excess movement, whether by employees, by balconies or machines, that doesn’t add value to the product, service or process. Typical causes include:
  • Poor process design and controls
  • Poor workstation/shop layout
  • Shared tools and machines
  • Workstation congestion
  • Isolated and siloed operations
  • Lack of standards
The solution here is to re-arrange layouts to decrease the distance between stations, and make it easier to reach things that are often used.


Excess Processing

This often occurs due to the creation of multiple versions of the same task, process more than is required or long-winded poorly designed processes. Examples include:
  • Excessive reports
  • Multiple signatures
  • Re-entering data and duplicated data
  • Lack of standards
  • Poor communication
  • Overdesigned equipment
  • Misunderstanding of the customer’s needs
  • Human error
  • Red tape procedures
All of these unnecessarily increase your costs, time and resources. You must first examine and map your organisation to analyse the processes in order to fix them. Standardise processes, empower employees and eliminate unnecessary documentation, sign-off processes and meetings. An example of an item to address could be where there is a long internal office processes with double-checking, triple checking etc which never really benefit the works output.
get some inspiration by watching the production video