Lean at Krispy Kreme

shmula » Shmula Eats a Donut: Lean at Krispy Kreme

My friend Peter Abilla runs an interesting blog (www.shmula.com) that discusses business, operations, and industrial engineering type topics, among other things.

His post today is about lean operational aspects of a Krispy Kreme donuts store. It’s really a donut production facility with a cash register.

Pete wrote:

“The founder of Krispy Kreme was unfamiliar with Lean, but he understood his customer’s needs: the right donut, perfectly made, and on time. Pretty simple. So, his solution was to create a hole in his kitchen to the street in order to get the donut to the customer quicker: Simple innovation and very customer-centric.”

He has some othe good insights, be sure to check out his blog and the rest of his posting.

I elaborated a bit with a comment on his site:

I like how KK does “continuous flow” donut making. You can notice that even the rising of the dough takes place in slowly (but continuously moving) conveyors that go up and down (to save space). Even the glazing is done in the continuous flow manner with the “curtain” of glaze. I believe the excess glazing that doesn’t land on a donut is recirculated in what I hope is a closed (and clean) system.

One potential source of overproduction — I think the KK donut line only runs at one rate, “on” as opposed to “off.” Note that the “Hot Donuts Now” sign is not always on… a sign of overproduction. If you are not there at a peak time, you will get glazed donuts out of inventory that was built up earlier when production > demand.

Sure, in a given day, I’m sure they don’t overproduce, making sure production = demand. But, within the day, there are peaks of overproduction because demand is not leveled.

I’ve also wondered why KK can’t do chocolate glazed donuts by having a second glaze tank with some sort of instantaneous “quick changeover” process that wouldn’t require stopping the line. You would probably get a few special “half and half” donuts with white and chocolate icing… might make for a nice marketing opportunity or a way to pull people in (come see the icing changeover). Or maybe not. I still think the chocolate glaze would be tasty hot off that line.

I assume they make their other donuts (crullers, jelly filled) in a traditional batch process?

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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 eBook 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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