Today, I am going to start a series of more detailed reviews of each of the eight kinds of process waste, following our acronym, Tim Woods. Today is T for Transportation.
Transportation can include both physical and electronic forms of hand offs. For instance, delivering parts to a work station is one type of transportation. An email is another. Storing files in a network folder can be another. Even commuting can be considered. In each case, there is the potential for things to go wrong. Too many, too few, or the wrong parts can be delivered. They can be too early or too late. The email could go into a spam folder. It could just be unread in the deluge of other emails. It could go to the wrong person. The file could be stored to the wrong location. It might be accessed and modified by two people at the same time, losing some of the work. Traffic, weather, and accidents can all affect a commute. We cannot avoid these situations, but we can minimize them.
Transportation is often not viewed as a waste because there is often a physical structure that is in place. Even in an office, if everyone is not in the same small room, this is something that has to be dealt with. It is often caused by new processes being overlaid onto existing infrastructure without taking into account the changes that can be made for new processes and technology. Staff turnover can affect this dramatically, too, as new people either have good ideas and implement changes or they do not understand the process and add complexity. Even things as simple as having to get approval from a supervisor cause additional transportation.
And easy way to delve into this potential waste and find it is to count the number of time work moves from station to station. These are hand offs. A station is anywhere that work is performed. This can be physical work or electronic files. Look for delays and potential problems at each of those hand offs. Make sure to include the movement of people as well, both commuting and having to move from station to station to complete work. Draw a map of how the work moves from station to station.
Don’t overlook Transportation waste, because if you can minimize it, you will find that your work processes flow much faster and with reduced defects.