In our daily lives at work and at home, we all face workflows and physical spaces that aren’t designed well. These poorly thought out systems often lead to wasted motion, which steals time away from us, or they introduce safety risks that can have an even greater impact on our lives.
For example, I work on a laptop. It plugs in under my desk, and whenever I move the laptop, I have to crawl under the desk to unplug it because I’ve been too lazy to go find the spare charger in my basement. This causes me to frequently hit my head or kneel painfully on the leg of my chair. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve done this at least once a day for the past seven months. I recently took ten minutes to find the extra charger, and now I keep it in my desk drawer at the ready for when I need to move the laptop. After many bruises and lots of wasted time, I’ve implemented a solution that eliminates the climb-under-the-desk workaround.
This is a personal example of one of the 7 wastes of Lean: Motion. Wasted motion can include walking, bending, reaching, typing, or other movement that’s not necessary. Wasted motion doesn’t add value to our customers and should be minimized or eliminated to the best of our ability.
Identifying Wasted Motion
Our customer Four Seasons Produce, "a full-service wholesaler supplying Organic, Local and Conventional fresh produce," pays particularly great attention to identifying and eliminating wasted motion. This increases productivity and efficiency, but also generally increases the quality of their products, the longevity of their equipment, and safety for their staff.
For example, the employees used to store a few heaters in a supply room up high, on top of storage racks. There wasn’t really any reason they were put in that particular place, other than that this was the place they’d always been stored. The problem was that the heaters were heavy, and it was difficult for some employees to lift them onto the racks or to take them down.
Implementing A Solution
One day, it occurred to someone that if they moved the racks over a little, there’d be room to store the heaters on the floor. This improved staff satisfaction and increased their safety, as no one has to strain to lift the heaters to put them away anymore. This solution had the added benefit of increasing storage space, as well, as the racks are now free to house other equipment.
What Can You Do?
Take some time every day to reflect on your own workflows and space. Can you find some wasted motion to eliminate from your daily routine? Give it a shot, and see if you can increase your productivity, safety, and satisfaction!
To learn how to be a successful leader of continuous improvement, guiding your staff in identifying opportunities to eliminate the seven wastes of Lean like Four Seasons Produce does, register for this upcoming webinar!