Monthly Archives: January 2017

Maximizing kaizen savings

Today’s post is a continuation of My favorite lean interview question

Although all the Lab Rats were presentation virgins, we wowed our audience. I slowly poured the broth out of a can of coreshrunk turkey dog food. It took an amazingly long time. The turkey loaf was tiny. While the steering committee was whispering their shock, I slammed a can with a soft turkey loaf onto a tray. Some of the managers and Lab Rats flinched at the loud, unexpected sound. Nothing came out of the can. It appeared turkey was crammed into the can. That’s why our customers loved this image. It seemed they got a lot for their money.

What could the Remarkable Lab Rats do to follow this? We needed another huge success. Anything less would have been a big disappointment.

Chuck, our facilitator, knew this. He suggested a project. The company used extruders to produce dry dog food. A nearby university burned wood chips to heat their campus. Our factory sent tons of cardboard to the dump. The company had an extruder that was not in use. Could we pelletize our trash and sell it/give it to the university?

Our plan surprised the university. They were agreeable provided we supply a minimum tonnage. To ascertain how much cardboard was discarded, we asked our trash hauler to use the plant’s truck scales for a couple of weeks.

Come to find out, dog food extruders could not be used to pelletize cardboard. However, our trash project saved the company money. Our trash hauler thought we were seeking a cheaper service. Out of the blue, they lowered their price.

It’s good to have a goal for a project. However, sometimes, success does not meet expectations.

Years later, I read a story about a municipality selling their pelletized trash to the university.

The company’s other factories should have asked their trash haulers to use their truck scales for a couple of weeks. I’m sure they didn’t know what happened at plant number one. A lean story could have changed that.