Holding Gains at Rebuilding Center

Today’s LeanPDX session with the Rebuilding Center jumped off from the momentum generated by the RBC’s warehouse meeting earlier in the week. They did some 5S training on their own and prioritized what they would be working on going forward.

At the top of that list was “Holding Gains”, which means different things to different people – from reducing rework and motion around the warehouse when an material is moved around, to the Standardize and Sustain concepts from 5S, even Leader Standard Work.

This week’s session stared out with how we could begin to really practice the discipline of standardized work, as well as sustain both ongoing operations and the smaller projects that the RBC has done with Lean PDX (see the Welcome Stations and Lumber Yard 5S posts).

This first step in creating this discipline is a standardized “closing procedure” checklist that Steve drafted up today, and will experiment on over his next few shifts.  This will primarily focus on warehouse safety readiness for the following day’s shift, but also ensuring the projects that have been kicked off are being sustained.  It will be backed up by the start of a management system to track the checklist usage and abnormalities that become visible from it (which is where we will pick things up next week).

Great work this week from the emerging Lean Leaders at the Rebuilding Center!

-Jared Davis

Gemba Walk at Free Geek

This was our first official working session at Free Geek.

We arrived at 10am, and spent the next hour rotating through 4 different stations:

  1. Receiving donations
  2. Sorting (cables primarily)
  3. Secure data area (SDA) – wiping hard drives
  4. Build – getting the computers and laptops up and running to sell or donate

We each spent about 15 minutes observing each area. Not enough time to really understand it, but it was sufficient to understand the primary process steps and what was done.

After our observations, we met with the management team, and discussed next steps. We had lots of notes, but didn’t go into too much detail on what we saw. We spent the 30 minutes with them discussing how to proceed.

When we discussed the goal of the organization, and where they are constrained today with providing computers to the community, the Build area was deemed to be the biggest bottleneck. They would like to double the number of computers per month, as they feel they have demand to support it within the community.

For next steps, we will be spending time in the Build area, taking many more observations and timings, to understand current state. We will be meeting every Friday afternoon from 2-4pm. If you are interested in helping each week, contact Brion.

The Operations Director had recently come back from a visit to another similar organization in Seattle, called Interconnection, which already uses Lean methodology. They are able to process many more computers per day with less staff and volunteers. This might be a good organization to benchmark with the entire team at some point.

I feel we are off to a good start, and we have an excited and engaged management team at Free Geek supporting us!

The Foundation of Continually Improving

We identified 4 opportunities to close the gap between our current and future state. Last time we worked with the Rebuilding Center staff, 3/14, we got some feedback about how some of their outcomes are improving.

The first opportunity we worked on was titled ‘guest education stations’. If you’ve popped into RBC lately a new signboard greets you with all of the supplies you need to shop; tape measure, pencils, hold tags, tape and other info about RBC. Remarks from Leif, assistant manager, is that guests are using more hold tags and coming to us staff less often with questions. This in turn has freed their capacity to tend to the work that requires their expertise. To sustain these gains, Pete, volunteer coordinator, made up a checklist to be used at the start of the day with a cart to stock the stations. There are many volunteers at RBC in addition to staff, so now staff do not need to manage the stocking – a volunteer does it and has instructions to refer to if they need.

The foundation is in place for the continually improving engine – good outcomes and engaged staff doing their own improvement!