Muda #2 - Transportation

photo by woodlywonderworks

photo by woodlywonderworks

Do you move products, supplies or tools unnecessarily in the course of your day? If so, this would be muda of transportation.

As you read this post you may be thinking on the surface that addressing things like waste of motion or transportation are trivial. Keep reading, below is a real world example that will give you some insight on how valuable it can be to focus on the details of your life and work.

Waste of transportation likely includes other forms of muda. If you had no need to move an item then you would not be moving yourself, one form of waste, transportation, may cause another, motion in this case.

The key difference between waste of motion and waste of transportation is that waste of transportation is focused on moving stuff while waste of motion is focused on movement of people. By clearly defining the difference this allows a person to differentiate and focus on the various forms of waste for the purpose of elimination.

Using the example from the 1st Muda, think about when you are cooking in your kitchen. Do you ever feel like a pinball bouncing from one side of the kitchen to the other while gathering ingredients. In this case the root cause for your waste of motion is the location of ingredients you must gather. To eliminate this waste you would focus on relocating the ingredients to prevent both waste of  motion and the waste of transportation.

Are you a naturally organized person? If so maybe you have already reduced much of your waste of transportation. Are you or your significant other not so organized or do you consistently put things in different location or worse  simply don’t put things away? If so, not only do you suffer the frustration associated with having to locate a needed item but you also suffer the  experience of wasted of transportation.

Big deal,  so I have to carry a few ingredients across the kitchen. It only takes a few seconds you may think!

The value in eliminating muda is that if you succeed at eliminating one wasteful activity today in the kitchen you stand to benefit for the rest of your life each time you are cooking. Find several more opportunities and over time it can add up to substantial benefit.

Last year during an informal presentation of lean management with an executive of a small company he was trying to multi-task, dealing with his mail and papers from his inbox.  With each document he would decide to put in back into the In-box, file it or throw it away. Dozens of times, to throw away documents he would push his chair back from his desk, sliding a few feet while turning around to his credenza under which was the trash can. The whole process took less than 5 seconds and all if was waste of transportation and motion.

In that moment of sudden awareness he relocated the trashcan under his desk at his feet. 

For years he’s been in the same office with the same routine. How much time was he wasting? Not much. If he tossed only 24 documents per day (his conservative estimate) maybe in the course of his day he wasted a couple minutes total. Big deal, you say?

What if this same executive found 9 other ways to save just 2 minutes a day? 20 minutes total; big deal you say? That works out to over 86 hours of additional time available for something more productive.

This company had 168 employees, what if each could save 20 minutes a day? Now it is a big deal! 86 hours times 168 associates adds up to over 14,000 hours!

What would you do with an additional 86 hours each year? Would you relax more, or earn more?

How do you find this waste of transportation?

The first rule to elimination of transportation is simply learning to recognize it, just thinking about what your doing and where you are going will help in this regard. Consider if each trip  is really necessary.

Each time you pick something up to carry it, ask yourself if it is in the best possible location to store the item.  Could the item(s) be located closer to where the work is being done?

Once you find an opportunity to reduce your waste of transportation consider finding some way to “standardize” the location. Label your shelves or establish a box, container or divider that clearly identifies the location for that item.

The more you think  about it the more waste you will find.

Check back next week to learn about the waste of inventory. Better yet, eliminate a little waste in your life by subscribing to the RSS feed at the top of this page or enter your email address on the left side to have these posts delivered directly to your inbox.

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