Children see, Children do? (Lean Learned Little)

Martijn Graat
Martijn Graat

This morning I dropped my kids off at the daycare centre (I have 3-year-old twins). Both my son and my daughter always go straight for the jigsaws and as I was standing at the toy cabinet ready to let them pick one, it hit me! My kids are going to a Lean daycare centre! Wow! (Although I’m not sure the people working there realise this) Just take a look at the picture below:

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Lean Toy Cabinet

The whole cabinet is clearly labelled with each of the different toy categories labelled on the shelves. When I looked further I saw more Lean indicators. The diaper drawers were also clearly labelled for type and size and they have marks in them, indicating the refill point.

Let’s take a look at some of the advantages:

+ If one of the shelves would be empty, you’d immediately notice that toys were missing. (If there are no jigsaws, I have a challenge!)
+ Any interns, temps, or parents helping out know where to put away anything.
+ Everything is always in the same place, making it easy to find something
+ It is clear which drawer to open when looking for a diaper
+ You never hit an empty drawer if everybody refills the drawer when the refill mark shows

Labelling and putting up Refill Markers are tools used for implementing and maintaining 5S in a Lean Operation. For people not familiar with 5S: 5S is a method for organising and standardising workplaces. In short: get rid of anything that is not essential for the process being executed at the workplace. Determine the ideal layout of the workplace, give everything a designated spot and clearly mark and label each spot, or install a shadow board.

The following example is a real-life example in one of the warehouses I’ve worked in. In this warehouse, there were 3 packing stations and the 3 packers each kept their own workstation in order. This worked fine until one of the packers needed to jump in on the line of one of the two other packers. He would be looking for tools, which he could blindly grab at his own station, slowing him down. Over time the packing stations each had taken their owners’ look and feel, and what might seem orderly to one, is chaos to another. Together with the packers, the packing stations were standardised.

Let’s take a look at some of the advantages:

+ Packers immediately see if anything is missing (each tool is lined out and labelled)
+ Any packer can work at any station
+ A standard work instruction can be developed for easy training and reference
+ Less clutter means more focus
+ Refill marks prevent running out of supplies

I hope that if my kids follow their father’s footsteps into logistics, they remember what they saw at their daycare centre, because Lean works!

Children see Children do…?

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