Transportation Waste Can Create A Huge Burden For Organizations

Posted by on Mar 17, 2019 in Continuous Improvement, Efficiency, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Process Improvement | 0 comments

Transportation is a common source of waste in many companies and includes the excessive and unnecessary movement of materials, products, information and paperwork and often exists where there is disorganization or a lack of clear procedures.

Some specific factors that can trigger you to look for transportation waste are:

  • Multiple operational locations where companies split operations among floors, buildings, cities, or across the globe and move materials between these locations driving additional costs and increasing the risk of material damage.  I remember my younger days working at GE’s Lamp Plant in Youngstown, OH were a freight elevator moved material between the floors of a four story building.  When the elevator broke down, operations virtually came to a halt!
  • Utilizing different suppliers where parts are made at one location, shipped to another for heat treating, plating, or painting, then sent back to the producing plant before being shipped to the customer.  Parts get damaged or lost and create waste and late delivery to the customer.
  • Equipment breakdowns contribute to transportation waste since material must be transferred to other machines and sites or to outside vendors to have the work completed.
  • Excessive email attachments might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but excessive attachments create waste for those receiving them and reading material that may not be pertinent to them.  In addition, large attachments often create delays in communication.
  • Requiring multiple approvals creates delays when documents must move from one location to another, sometime sitting untouched for days on the desks of people whose approvals were not necessary in the first place.

Often one waste leads to another and transportation waste is no exception:

  • As stated earlier, unnecessary transportation can lead to material damage and delay operations if replacements must be ordered.
  • Storing materials in more than one location can result in excessive people motion due to the inability to locate materials quickly.
  • Waiting for material handlers to move or search for raw materials can create delays.

Transporting patients in hospitals for various procedures is a common practice and is taken for granted.  But when the appropriate staff isn’t allocated it could lead to patients not getting adequate care.  Several months ago, I had a minor procedure at a local hospital where I stayed overnight.  The nurses on the floor were continually wheeling patients to the floor and getting them situated while other bedridden patients waited to be assisted to, sometimes for long periods of time.  Not only is this transportation waste, it is waste of a valuable skill that should not be used to move patients from one location to another.

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