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Visual Management
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Spaghetti Diagrams to reduce waste

Spaghetti Diagram

Spag Bol is a favourite dish for lots of people. Equally so, spaghetti diagrams are a favoured improvement tool: an easy to use and insightful way to ‘see’ waste and improve productivity.

In this warehouse, we were asked to coach the team to achieve higher levels of pick efficiency. We asked them to take a floor plan of their warehouse and draw a diagram of where they walked when they picked an order. If the team member walked back and forth, and crossed over earlier paths, the lines would look like a jumbled bowl of spaghetti, hence the term.

The questions from this visual drawing lead to the elimination or reduction of waste.

To look for productivty improvement is to look to eliminate the ‘seven wastes’, a Lean concept that was developed by Taiichi Ohno, the Chief Engineer at Toyota. These are often referred to by the acronym ‘TIM WOODS’, and are Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Overproduction, Overprocessing, Defects and Skills. The last one was added later to make it the eight wastes.

What are the key wastes you can see in this warehouse spaghetti diagram? You’re mapping movement so you’re likely going to see excessive

  • Motion, where a person walks or moves more than is required, and
  • Transportation, where the products or materials are moved excessively.

In this warehouse example, the team ‘saw’ the following problems and came up with these solutions:

IssueCauseSolution or Action
Lots of crossovers during pick runPick sheet was sorted by material numberSort pick sheet by item aisle location
Climbing the mezz floor stairsSmall items stored there for lack of spaceCreate space in warehouse and move items to lower level
Picker returned to packing bench oftenBasic hand tools and materials kept thereCreate mini shadow board on each pick trolley for all basic tools

 

Can you find more problems and solutions?

Process and Material Flow is one of the practices of our Productivity Growth WheelTM. Contact us at Productivity People on 0800 pro-people or info@productivitypeople.co.nz if you want to learn more about this.