Friday, March 2, 2012

Heijunka and the art of lawn work

Heijunka is defined as production smoothing where orders are "leveled out" over time to create a more stable and predictable process. From wikipedia:
"As in any process, fluctuations in performance increase waste. This is because equipment, workers, inventory and all other elements required for production must always be prepared for peak production. This is a cost of flexibility. If a later process varies its withdrawal of parts in terms of timing and quality, the range of these fluctuations will increase as they move up the line towards the earlier processes. This is known as demand amplification.  Where demand is constant, production leveling is easy, but where customer demand fluctuates, two approaches have been adopted: 1) demand leveling and 2) production leveling through flexible production.

I decided to try this thinking when it comes to yard work-which is a chore I hate.  Typically, my lawn work schedule in a given week would look like this based on how much I did in the yard each day:
Monday-0 min, Tuesday-0 min, Wednesday-0 min, Thursday-0 min, Friday-0 min, Saturday-75 min, Sunday-30 minutes
So, I decided to level my work across all seven days using heijunka principles so it now the schedule looks like this:
Monday-15 min
Tuesday-15 min
Wednesday-15 min
Thursday-15 min
Friday-15 min
Saturday-15 min
Sunday-15 minutes

Now I find that I actually enjoy puting in a quarter of an hour each day on lawn work since the burden is lighter.  In addition, it has become a habit that I find myself compelled to do.  Little by little, the tedious yard work is getting done and I find myself looking forward to it since it only lasts 15 minutes.  I will be applying this leveling concept in other areas as well to see what I can level and make better and become a good habit.
What work have you leveled out today?
Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer


Joe said...

So, Dan, keep us posted. How to you parse out a "batch" job, like mowing, into 15 minute sequences?

How do you do the SMED of the fixed effort to get the mower out of the garage, gassed and going?

The fixed cost of changing your clothes?

I'm interested!!

lafever said...

These are great questions forcing me to go deeper in lean thinking. You gave me more material for the future.