Wednesday, October 16, 2019

What's your inventory style? JIT vs Doomsday Prepper

Lean Manufacturing consultants talk about "Just in Time" inventory but never define what that is. If you push for a definition they will say "all inventory is bad". I like to call this Abstinence-Only inventory education.

Doomsday Preppers have enough items on hand so they can start a new life without any input from others. This might mean food stores, or equipment to rebuild a whole society.

Which of these suits you more closely? The best answer is probably somewhere in the middle.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Short Runs and Low Inventory

Sometimes you'll notice breweries using plastic can wraps, or stickers/labels around an aluminum can. This seems silly at first - there doesn't seem to be any reasonable explanation; a can plus a sticker is surely massively more expensive than just a can.

Using a stock item (a plain can) plus a short-run custom item (stickers or shrink wrap) is a quick way to get product out and see whether investing in fully custom packaging makes sense. Custom packaging is a way to tie up tons of cash and is risky if you aren't sure a product will sell. Keep an eye out for this type of packaging: it's a pretty reliable way to tell which brands and products are new to the market.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

What haven't you cleaned in a year?

When your 5S walk gets stale, this is a fun challenge: what's something in your studio you haven't cleaned in the past entire year? Clean it today.

Today, mine was the wheels of our pallet jack.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Pallet Jack Pen Pouch

Problem: getting all the way to the loading dock and neither you, nor the delivery/pickup driver, is holding a pen to sign the paperwork for the shipment you're receiving or shipping.

5-minute fix: duct tape folded into a pouch on the jack itself. Now a pen and a Sharpie both live on the pallet jack!

What annoying thing can you fix in five minutes?

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Last One Tags

How do you avoid running out of items? Especially lower cost, consumable items like shipping boxes?

1. Order three year's worth of these at a time. Find a place to store them, then realize a few month's in that they aren't really the right size for what you need.
2. Track inventory meticulously. Do a physical count daily, or require employees to scan them in and out so you can view the count from your computer at any moment.
3. Create a reasonable warning system so you know before you run out with enough time to avoid disrupting regular operations.

Here's one way to implement #3: print out a bunch of labels  like the ones in the photo. We print the words "Don't Use Without Reordering - No Usar Sin Reordenar" on the label. The item to be reordered can be written down as well, so you can remove the label when you get to it and use that as your reminder to order the items.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

What's #1?

The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is a massive hotel. 43 kitchens, 450 chefs, serving tens of thousands of meals a day. Chef Christie, who oversees the food operations, has a lot of individual processes, materials, and people to consider. There are a mind-boggling number of things happening at any time, including ordering, receiving ingredents, storage, prep, and serving.

So, with all that to oversee, what is the first thing he looks for to see whether things are running smoothly? How clean the kitchens are.

"I'm looking at general cleanliness, first thing. I'm looking at the floors...if it's total chaos or if things are really under control."

A good reminder that following the Shine step in 5S is both style and substance.

The full episode can be viewed on Netflix in the Mega Food series, or on Youtube here:

Monday, September 9, 2019

Go/No-Go Gauge for Cave Tours

You don't want to get halfway into a tour for a cave and then find out the passageways are too small for your comfort. This entrance (at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO) puts a cutout of the smallest passageway right at the entrance to the line for the tour. If you, your stroller, or your family members can't make it through this cutout, the tour is not for you. 

This type of gauge is useful in both manufacturing and in real life!