This is the fourth post on wastes identified in lean manufacturing
. In this post we discuss about transportation. Lean identifies transportation as one of the wastes in manufacturing context. But we can identify similar wastes in offices, service providers and software development. So let’s discuss one by one.
In manufacturing context transportation refers to the movement of goods in the form of raw material, semi finished goods or in finish goods from one place to another without adding value to the product. If we look at the ideal lean manufacturing unit, the process of manufacturing is initiated by the customer. Then the manufacturer process the RM to the finished product and delivers it to the customer then and their. So in the ideal process there is no waste called transportation. But in the reality we can not completely avoid transportation. For an example most of the raw material suppliers are not within the manufacturing premises, nor is the customer. This makes transportation is a requirement. But if you analyze carefully you will have tremendous amount of transportation even within your manufacturing premises. This does not add value to your final product. So obviously any lean manufacturer will treat this as a waste.
First to identify the way your goods move in your manufacturing premises from RM until becoming a finished product, you can draw up a diagram following the physical path of the product. This is known as a spaghetti diagram in most of the cases. This is because they look like a plate of spaghetti, messy and hard to follow the path even on the diagram. If you measure the distance that product has traveled before becoming a finished product you will be amazed.
Transportation is mainly due to problems in layout designs. Poor layouts and usage of inappropriate mass manufacturing techniques and machinery will increase the transportation in your organization. Transportation increases the lead time, reduces the flexibility of the system. Obviously this will increase work in progress.
Using lean manufacturing techniques you can eliminate the waste of transportation. This requires careful mapping of the process as described earlier, and re arranging the layout and machinery to reduce transportation. Processes also need to be re arranged.
In an office the cause of transportation is not different. Poor layout designs and processes increase the transportation. In an office transportation can be identified with the distance document moves or the amount of people involved in an email communication or number of work stations someone has to move before getting their job done.
Lean office should not have unnecessary movements of documents (including e communication), people involved in the process. Most of the offices will have to rethink their processes and align them to a lean process. For an example number of signatures required to finalize the process can increase the transportation. If we rearrange the process by removing unnecessary processes of signing the documents it can reduce the transportation greatly.
In lean software developments, transportation can be identified as having too many iterations going back and forth, too many errors identified in testing and subsequent processing and so on. Even in software levels, how the data is processed and amount of tables a query has to read can be considered as transportation.
Re arranging the methods of requirement capturing, program and data structures will make the process of software development effective.
In service context transportation can be number of work stations someone has to go to before they get he job done, number of options they have to navigate before getting to the service they require when they call your organization. Again this is due to poor arrangement of services or processes.
In a lean service people should get what they want from the place they walk into. They must be guided to the correct place with effective communication. Once they visit the service provider, there should not be any more movement.
So transportation can be identified not only in lean manufacturing. We can identify transportation in offices, services and also in software development. Removing transportation from the system will increase the flexibility of the system, and will reduce the lead time and also will reduce the work in progress.