Fixin’ Dem Leaks
By: Andrew Neyer
[Picture a leaky hose. If you can’t, attached is a video for reference (Hoser No.1).]
A water company bills you for the water dispensed from your spigot. Think of the water meter as your time on the clock at work. The water dispensed from the garden hose is your production-work completed on the clock. These are not always the same thing.
In the first video, we see a fair amount of water leaking from the connection of the spigot to hose. Water dispensed from the output of a hose is less than the amount dispensed to the spigot, which supplies the water to the hose. This is the difference between time-at-work and production-time completed.
The second video shows a much cleaner and appropriate connection for a hose that is often connected and disconnected. In this quick-release-connection, the leaking stops. If the hose is correctly connected, the output of the hose is matching the output of the spigot.
When properly shutoff and disconnected, there is very little water wasted. This waste is comparable to a work shift ending on schedule and clocking out. When off the clock (spigot turned off), there is not a leak in production-time. In contrast, when we disconnect from work physically or mentally, while on the clock (spigot turned on), there is ‘X’ amount of water billed not used effectively. Think of a daily 10–15 min wasteful habit that could be eliminated or redirected.
15 min/day * 4 days/wk = 1hr * 50 weeks/yr * $$/hr = 🙁
Being aware that time is not a resource we can recoup; time matters. Your time matters to a company when you clock in. Connect securely and accurately before commencing work so that you do not waste the water. Try to match your metered time to your output by limiting the times you disconnect. Take the needed breaks in a day, but do them intentionally.
As we get comfortable in our positions and work, seals can wear out over time, and small leaks grow into significant losses over a week or year. Groom your processes daily to make sure you do not have unnecessary leaks. Things can look good from a distance. You gotta get under dat hose and make sure it fastens tight.
Aquor has taken the standard spigot to new heights. With a minimal face plate, the hose connects into the recessed channel. Instead of turning spigot on and off with a turn knob, the act of joining the coupling turns the valve on or off. This improvement is a huge win (and countless pennies saved on the meter) from the leaky transitions of the past!
The Aquor system is what modern production-work can look like. We do not have to accept that work will have leaky-wastes because “dat’s just how it’s always bean durn.” With Aquor, if the hose is disconnected, it simultaneously ‘clocks out’. Just as you will always need to connect and disconnect your hose, we need to connect and disconnect from work. Since we know, we will disconnect (lunch, end of a shift, personal day, vacation, outings, etc.) be purposeful with how and when we disconnect.
This formula written by Taiichi Ohno captures the essence of the first leaky hose;
capacity = work + waste
Too often, we attempt to increase our capacity by merely sourcing more labor. This route increases capacity, but it also increases the overhead at the same rate. Instead, focusing on removing waste increases the capacity while decreasing the overhead. Ohno also reveals that the customer is paying the price of the end product (cost of work + waste). So, avoiding to omit waste becomes disrespectful not only to the company’s funds but to the customer, who is truly the one paying for the waste.
Removing the ‘unnecessary’ makes room for the essential and positively directs your work.
“For every problem, we must have a specific countermeasure. A vague statement that waste should be eliminated, or that there are too many workers, will not convince anybody. But with the introduction of the Toyota production system, waste can be identified immediately and specifically. In fact, I always say production can be done with half as many workers…I think it is more worthwhile in a company to work in the area where there are problems due to dwindling sales than in an area where sales are rising. The need for improvement is more urgent even though it may not seen that way.
It is a shame that in today’s business and industrial society, the relationship between work and worker and machine and worker have become so adversarial. For our development to continue, we must become more generous, more respectful, and more creative.” – Taiichi Ohno
100% efficiency is not realistic, but it is absolutely a target worth aiming at.
Waste can take on many forms inside and outside the factory. The filter is always whether or not our activity adds value?
It can be easy to convince ourselves the tasks that fill up our days are valuable. Why else would we do them, right?
A simple way to measure the value is to allocate how much you would pay someone to perform any of the following activities: run errands, make decisions, commute, explore, phone scrollin’, overproduction, gossip, waiting, doorway leanin’, shopping, meetings, useless motion, pondering, chatting, critique, and data review.
*NOTE: These are intentionally ambiguous to expose the vast habitats where waste hides. Not everything listed is meant to be seen as entirely negative, or something that can (or should) be entirely eliminated, but instead areas that Waste can overtake and corrupt. For instance, ‘Pondering’ is a good practice when deciding which company you should partner with on your project, but pondering can go too far in other scenarios. Think of these as negative behaviors when they prevent you from being able to Produce or Invest. Pondering what to listen to while you work becomes wasteful when you are on the clock. Dirty dishes, when ignored, become a form of debt and require new motivation to complete. The farther you commute to work, the longer it takes to return home. Not every category can be eliminated, but always look for ways to compress. Shop for what you need, when you need it. Leftovers can spoil the fridge. A phone call ends when we hang up, a text conversation never ends.*
“There must be hundreds of people around the world who can improve productivity and efficiency by increasing production quantity. We, too, have such foremen at Toyota. But few people in the world can raise productivity when production quantities decrease. With even one such person, the character of a business operation will be that much stronger.”
– Taiichi Ohno
– What leaks can you identify?
– How can you help repair leaks?
– Where can I buy one of those fancy thangs?