Lean at Krispy Kreme?


Source: 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 topics, among other things.

His post today is about the 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 other 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 Krispy Kreme 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 Krispy Kreme 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 Krispy Kreme 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
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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