Recognising waste can be somewhat of an epiphany.

Lean Manufacturing compared to doing the laundry

We all know that feeling, you’ve been doing something for years and it has always felt like a total waste of your time. The task itself is not the waste, it has to happen, but the way we go about it is full of unnecessary inefficiencies.

Lean Manufacturing talks about ‘the 7 wastes’. Often referred to as TIMWOOD by many.  During one of our recent Lean training sessions a bright participant quickly caught on to this concept on the very first day. As a young mother of four she has her hands full and on that particular evening they were full of the never ending laundry.

A greasy process

The mind-numbing monotony starts with collecting all the separate piles of sprawling dirty laundry from all over the house, gathering it all together to transport it to the washing machine in the attic. Once there, only to start sorting it into separate piles again. But this was by no means the last of the searching, sifting and the sorting! The clean laundry loads are yet again gathered together from the dryer and/or the washing line and transported back down to one of the bedrooms where all is once more sorted and separated into piles per person. These piles are then again transported to the individuals’ bedrooms and now sorted, this last time folded and finally put away to rest in the cupboards and drawers.

Our star pupil recognised that she had actually picked up and put down the same garments more than 12 times during the process of gathering, transporting and sorting. This can’t be right, it is only a load of laundry!!!

(C)Leaning up my closet!

Now having an opportunity to put Lean to the ultimate test, she set herself the goal of halving the amount of times that she handled a garment there and then. She tested out her new system of one laundry load per person and was amazed she had reduced the number of gathering, transport, and sorting steps by two thirds.

Inspired by her own personal victory in the battle against the household chores she and the team dived into the departmental processes with fearless confidence.

Whether it’s the laundry or the processes at work, do you recognize the waste enough to do something about it?