Category Archives: Success Stories

Snowmaking and muda??

Muda is the Japanese term for waste.  There are eight forms of muda:

  • Motion—unnecessary movement of people
  • Waiting—people waiting for people, information, products, equipment, etc.
  • Movement—unnecessary movement of “things”
  • Correction—incomplete or incorrect information
  • Over Processing—doing more than necessary to produce a product/service
  • Overproduction—doing/making more than needed
  • Inventory—excess supplies, paperwork, information or equipment
  • Knowledge—not utilizing an individual’s full capacity (knowledge, skills, aptitude, and/or creativity)

Nick Sirdenis, General Manager at Mont Ripley Ski Hill, recently shared a short story of his day-to-day experience with muda – in the form of overproduction.   Mont Ripley uses snow guns to produce snow, supplementing when Mother nature doesn’t come through.  “A good 18 inched of base (snow) will last through any thaw” Nick stated.  However, he continued with “when the snow guns are blasting and the ground is covered it is hard to tell whether there is one inch of coverage or four feet.”  The Ski Hill staff then use drills to make a measurement of the snow coverage. 

Daily snow production changes with the weather, so Nick and his staff are always watching the forecast and measuring snow to make sure portions on the hill do not get too much (overproduction).   To date this season, Nick estimates the guns have allowed them to be open for an additional 40-45 days. 

Check out the Ski Hill on Facebook

(Photo of a snow gun at Mont Ripley)


A Personal Experience with the Four Step Problem Solving Process

By Allie Olano, Student Process Improvement coordinator

When I entered my first Kaizen event I was very overwhelmed.  I was a Student Manager at the time and our Kaizen was focusing on the efficiency and flow of student workers during our busy times in the Residential Dining Halls.  The facilitator walked us through the four step problem solving process, which was something I had never heard before. 

We started going through all the steps and I was able to participate and give my perspective on things.  We were able to brainstorm and formulate countermeasures that would later be implemented to help solve our problem.

After the Kaizen was over, it really got me thinking about my job and how I could apply this process to day-to-day tasks that often have problems.  I took the task of our substitution-card process and through the problem solving process was able to come to the conclusion that the root cause was actually overscheduling due to the process I was using.  My student workers were signing up for more hours than what they wanted, and I was scheduling them based on those hours not knowing it was too much.  In turn this lead to more sub cards being posted and the sub cards not being filled.  To solve the problem I rescheduled my workers to where it was more manageable with their class schedule and I also hired a couple more students that just filled sub cards.

I found that going through the process is very beneficial because you are able to reveal the true cause of your problem and you are able to find a solution to solve the problem.  I encourage you to contact a facilitator if you a have problem and would like to work through it using the problem solving process.


Visual Controls

Check out the pictures below taken of the Rozsa Storage Room.  Recently a 5S project was completed in the storeroom and visual controls, the color coded shelves, were implemented as a way to sustain the new organization.  The color coded shelves also allow staff to make quick decisions about where they will go for what: blue for sound equipment, yellow for audio visual equipment, and red for lighting and rigging.


PDCA and the “Cash Hub”

The Plan-Do-Check-Adjust (PDCA) cycle is the backbone of an improvement event.  It is a four step model for carrying out a change.  Here is a real life example of what PDCA can look like:

Plan: Recognize an opportunity and plan a change.  Collect Baseline Data and gather information.

Auxiliary Services identified an area that needed improvement.  Problem Statement:

“Cash accounting and financial reporting is decentralized and inconsistent among the operational units of the Memorial Union, Dining Services, Merchandising and Rozsa Center.  This is causing: unclean month end reports, delays in deposits and remittances, and stopped work when employees are out.”

Do: Observe and analyze the current process, design an improved process, test the change.

A team was formed and met for five days.  They analyzed problems and brainstormed solutions.  As a result, by day five a new cash accounting process was implemented. 

A hub and spoke model was created, and the 16 operational units began sending their accounting to the newly created “cash hub.”  Each operational unit would submit a daily cash bag to the cash hub.  The hub model allowed for the following:

  • A controlled environment for cash accounting to be completed
  • Staff specialists in cash accounting
  • Work that continues even if an employee is out

Check: Review the new process and monitor the results.  Is it working?

Cash hub staff continued to collect data and performed additional monitoring of the new system.  A few areas for improvement were observed:

  • Numerous bag errors being submitted to the hub
  • Numerous hours were spent fixing and deciphering the errors
  • 2 new units need to feed into the hub
  • No time to handle new units

Adjust: Modify and make improvements as needed.  Continue to check and adjust, or PDCA again if the change didn’t work. 

Standardized work sheets and visual aids were created to help the staff at each operational unit submit an error free bag.  Feedback loops were also created for error tracking.  As a result of their monitoring and continued improvements, the Auxiliary Services cash hub has been seeing results.