“Efficiency is so much a part of the culture at UPS…” UPS has always been known as an Industrial Engineering driven company. Here’s an example of reducing driving waste:
Listen to driver Bert Johnson describe his route in Gardena, Calif.
“We’re gonna make a right turn onto 135th to Western. We’ll make another right on Western down to 139th,” Johnson says. And he goes on, “Right turn on 139th and go down to the end of the block and we’ll make another right turn.”
You getting the idea? UPS plots its delivery routes to make as many right turns as possible. In a world where half the driving choices are left turns, they avoid turning left.
And how much of the time are UPS trucks turning right? Tasha Hovland, an industrial engineering manager, said, “A guesstimate, I would probably say 90 percent. I mean we really, really we hate left turns at UPS.”
Would I call this “lean”? Sure. At least partly — the focus on standard work and on eliminating waste is strong, which is a very good start. I wonder how much employee input they get into continuous improvement. Is it all driven by engineers and VP’s?
Is there a mechanism for employee suggestions (no, not a “suggestion system”)? See Chuck Yorke’s column on harnessing employee ideas for more on this topic.
About LeanBlog.org: Mark Graban is a consultant, author, and speaker in the “lean healthcare” methodology. Mark is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as the new Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. Mark is also the VP of Innovation and Improvement Services for KaiNexus.