Friday, April 01, 2011

Did this Material Come In?

On a recent business process kaizen to improve a warehouse receiving process, our team was focused on improving the time from when the material arrives at the dock door and it is entered “correctly” into the system as received. On too many occasions, the material does not get entered properly in the system and ends up lost somewhere in the facility.

Typically, the invoice would arrive in Accounting some time later and the Accounting would write “Did this material come in?” on the invoice copy if the system did not show receipt of the material. Then forward the copy to Purchasing. Purchasing would contact the supplier to confirm shipment and send out a search party into the plant to locate this missing material.

This problem is so common that Accounting got tired of hand writing “Did this material come in?” on the invoice. To kaizen this process, they purchased a hand stamp with “Did this material come in? to eliminate the wasted time hand writing.

How often do we improve the wrong tasks? It is not true kaizen to improve something that should not be done at all. Before we jump to improvements, ask what the function is and what the value is. Take the time to look deeper. Our kaizen should look at improving the value. In this case, why did the material not get entered properly in the first place?

That’s just what our kaizen team investigated. After several rounds of experiments, we improved the receiving process and the time to “correctly” enter the material into the system was reduced by 86%. In addition, we set up a measurement system to closely monitor the process for sustainability and further kaizen. Soon this stamp can be eliminated.


Mark R. Hamel said...

Hi Mike,

Great example of kaizening AROUND the root cause! It was so silly, I first thought, given the date of the post, that it may be an April Fools thing. But like many of our experiences, it's all too real.

Mike Wroblewski said...

Hi Mark,

Don't let the April 1 date fool you. This is a real example and yes...silly.