Make way for megaships — Bigger Batches!

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Business

When reading this article, I kept thinking about the trend toward bigger batches with shipping – bigger mega ships that take 4-5 days to unload at port instead of 2-3 days to unload, along with planes like the Airbus A380 megaplane. Can you imagine being the last one off of that plane after landing? That’s time to read another book!

I’m not an expert on ships, I wonder if the “efficiencies of scale” from these larger ships are really efficiencies, given the extra fuel costs required to move them across the ocean, etc. I guess they reduce labor costs with the larger ships… but is it really reducing total cost for them?

A related article discusses other bottlenecks in the logistics network, ranging from a shortage of truckers to rail bottlenecks. Union Pacific Railroad “is borrowing lean management techniques from Toyota Motor Corp. to weed out inefficiencies” (but the article doesn’t outline what those are, other than to say they aren’t letting trains sit in yards as long as before).

One “lean” innovation from the ports, as described in a photo caption is to “allow trucks to pick up cargo on weekends to cut down on bottlenecks”. I’m sure union rules probably got in the way, but allow pick ups 7 days a week instead of 5 is an obvious capacity increase. When demand is increasing, you can keep your takt time in line by increasing your working hours. Seems pretty obvious right?

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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