This is the eighth piece in a content series, “The 12 Days of Lean Six Sigma,” about applying the tools and techniques of Lean Six Sigma to the holiday season. You can read the seventh piece here.
When it comes to holiday deliveries, nothing’s more satisfying than getting your hands on a long-awaited gift right on time for Christmas. Rising customer expectations mean that delivery times and quality are primary factors that define a business’s success.
Companies can use the 8 Wastes of Lean, or DOWNTIME, to eliminate wasteful activities that take out time from the entire process of delivering a product to a customer.
The effectiveness of focusing on defects depends on how early manufacturers can identify errors. They’ll do this by questioning if the product or service is up to standards or customer expectations. If 500 parents order a teddy bear online, the toy brand needs to verify that it’s in stock. If they need to order more from a manufacturer, the latter must follow a checklist and come up with inspections that help define the best quality of the product before sending it off to a retailer.
An operation floor that finds itself with too many teddy bears can face higher costs that can lower the company’s profitability. This over-production doesn’t only take the form of a tangible good – it can include bombarding a team with excess information that effects workflows.
If the company notices that the toy bear stuffing process is taking longer than usual this year, management should consider repairing broken machinery or eliminating outdated equipment. Another approach to gain cost-free time is to reassess meeting times amongst team members. If employees are spending too much time trying to figure out ribbon designs for the teddy bears, it’s time to come up with a more efficient brainstorm session.
That isn’t to say that brainstorming a teddy bear’s ribbon design is not essential. An organization’s best asset is its employees. They’re the critical source for innovative ideas, but if companies don’t foster a space where they can share their thoughts or if the process is dire, the creativity can die. Companies can assess this point by making sure leadership offers employees the space to participate in important decisions and give positive feedback. Like the color design of a small ribbon wrapped around a teddy bear’s neck.
The supply chain in charge of delivering a newly designed teddy bear collection to the other side of the country must consider how much movement the toys can handle. The image of a little girl trying to figure out why her stuffed bear has a folded ear on Christmas morning is not pretty. Unnecessary movement is part of the transportation process, but it doesn’t add any value to the product. Companies should consider reducing unnecessary transportation steps by containing the production process to a single location as much as possible.
If a company overproduces teddy bears, it could increase the possibility of higher defect rates. Delivering a toy bear collection that’s missing their right eye is not an easy sight for any customer. Companies must work to achieve consumer forecasting and made-to-order approaches that have a steady flow of product/demand information.
Movement across operational processes can often be unnecessary and cause delays in deliverable deadlines. Other than physical movement due to transportation, companies should consider reviewing physical spaces and machinery that can be deceiving. For example, if someone takes too long to move from one operation plant to a control room, a company can invest in a transportation method to decrease moving time.
Unexamined processes can often contain extra steps that lead to irregular and unorganized workflows. A team that reviews the sturdiness of a teddy bear and whether it sits without falling a second time should eliminate that step if the managers find that the first review is more than enough to ensure the quality of the final product.