domingo, 3 de enero de 2016

Elevator in the bakery... Lean bakery?

Happy new year.

2016 has started and is exciting to see, what new challenges brings. 

This is a warm up post. Today I take a simple example from a local bakery to write about the importance of providing the right conditions so workers are able to perform better. An elevator inside a bakery, receives my attention and makes me remember a warehouse that needs to look at this small bakery. 

Is great to have you reading this. I'm sure many of you still have days off so probably have extra time to surf the web and read interesting stuff. For guys like me, everything starts again tomorrow. But before my routine starts again, wanted to post a reflection about a bakery I visited today. Just a small post to warm up, the year ahead. 

Local Bakery. 
It was my son's birthday and wanted to buy a nice chocolate cake. I was able to find one at good price and when I was heading to pay, I noticed a big industrial elevator right behind the cashier. Well, it wasn't behind, it was in an angle with enough space to be used. I noticed all kinds of visual aids, as well as safety rules to operate the elevator. This elevator, was obviously an industrial one. It didn't look cheap. Certainly was expensive, but immediately remember one warehouse I know that needs to have one of those. Remember that management, at that warehouse didn't consider a priority to install an elevator or any lifting device to help the workers to place or pick parts from upper levels. Of course an elevator would have helped to move things easier, safer, better, and faster. But as the budget  didn't allow, this suggestion wasn't even considered. 

So, the fact that a bakery considered installing one at this store tells me a lot about management. Obvioulsy, a bakery needs to move a lot of raw materials to prepare bread, cakes, etc. every day. So, for me, considering an elevator means that management understands the hard work it takes to move all materials to the upper level, or bring them down stairs. Of course, ergonomic issues start appearing when you continuously have to move things around to get things done. So, it is sad that a warehouse, in other industry, doesn't consider providing the right conditions for the workers a priority. Having the right conditions often means fewer risks (safer environment), the opportunity to do things better, faster and without stress for people. Besides, we should consider that in the case of the bakery, the core business is to make cakes, not to carry heavy sacks upstairs. 

Industrial elevator.
By this, I do not mean that the warehouse I´m referring to, needs to invest a huge amount of money installing an elevator. There are other options that can be considered, to help the people move materials from or to the upper levels. Providing the right conditions, doesn´t have to be expensive. But even if it is expensive, the pay off will be unmeasurable. Because people will realize that management really cares about them. And the ROI can be easily calculated considering delays, damages to parts, and the impact on productivity.

I don´t know if this bakery, really think the way I do, about providing the right conditions for people, or if they even know lean or kaizen. I don´t know if this thinking extends to other practices or processes they handle. But I would like to think they do. After all is just the third day of the new year, and this year seems promising. 

Hopefully that warehouse gets better conditions so people can perform better. 

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned. 

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