Muda #5 - Rework

Photo by Benimoto

Photo by Benimoto

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over”

– John Wooden

Muda of rework is not just about defects in workmanship; muda of rework is anything that is unacceptable to you, your family or your customer. Rework is caused by accidents and ignorance and results from inattention and mistakes when multitasking.

Think about the nuisance that can be caused just as your sitting down for dinner. The table is set, the food is served warm and just before grace someone knocks over a glass of milk.

Plates are picked up, dishes are moved and the spill is cleaned up. You then have to reset the table and get another glass of milk. By the time you finish it is difficult to imagine the meal being as enjoyable. The food is cold and frustrations run high.

While not intentional a simple accident can cause great disturbance.

Typos in letters, mislabeled envelops, incorrect measurements, misinterpretations of instructions, reliance on one’s memory can all lead to muda of rework.

Not long ago I needed some bolts for a project in the garage. Since I was headed to the hardware store I figured I would take care of another item on the list. I set out to repair a faulty valve under the sink that leads to the ice maker.

Taking a quick look at it on the way out to the hardware store I determined I needed some copper pipe with 1/2″ fittings. I returned with $35 in materials including some flux just in case I didn’t  have any. The replacement components were soldered together and only once I climbed under the sink to take it apart did I realize the fittings were compression, not soldered.

Back to the hardware store filled with anger with myself for making such a mistake I then needed to buy about $50 in copper tubing and the necessary fittings.

Upon my return under the counter with the new parts I discovered the fittings on the sink were 3/8″ not 1/2″. Arrggg!

One more trip and I was in business, the new valve was installed but needed a cap because we don’t even use the ice maker. Imagine how I felt when I realized the cap I had purchased was sized for the first valve I purchased with the soldered components! Back to the store again!

Finally, no really this is the last time. Everything is together and I was ready to turn on the water to test the assembly. When I turned on the water to test my work, I found one of fittings had not seated properly. Unfortunately, I had no spare so back to the store once again!

In all it was 6 trips to the hardware store, taking twice as much time as it should have, with at least $35 in materials wasted all do to impatience. I’ve done enough plumbing work to know there are different types of fittings. Certainly I know well enough that my judgment of distance and sizes suffers, in fact I follow the measure 3 times and cut philosophy when cutting so why didn’t I take the time to properly measure the fittings and determine what I really needed the first time? Frankly I have no excuse. It comes down to the fact that I didn’t follow common sense.

There are such a wide array of opportunities for us to make mistakes resulting in rework it is impossible to document a set of rules that would address them all. From the kitchen to the office we are exposed to potential reword due to our lack of focus and impatience.

How do we prevent the waste of time and energy that comes with the need for rework? Like so many other Lean principles in comes down to common sense and awareness.

  • Time is money, not to mention the expense of extra inventory and materials used as a result of rework. Knowing the value of your time and the added costs should help us slow down enough to consider carefully what we are doing.
  • Being properly organized with our supplies and materials will help ensure what we need, when we need it, is at hand.
  • Taking the time to plan for the task at hand, collecting all the necessary components or ingredient before we begin, making sure what we have is correct for the job at hand will help eliminate many mistakes.
  • Don’t bother trying to multitask. A human is simply not capable of doing multiple complex jobs at once. In fact a study once conducted by Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London found that “Workers distracted by email and phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers.”

Have a good story to share when you had to re-do a job, project or task because of silly mistakes? Please comment below to share the lesson you learned so that we may all benefit.

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