Operations Management is one of those classes that causes you to see your whole world differently. The class is more conceptual than mathematical – though there is some math involved – and we’ve covered such concepts as The 4 Dimensions of Performance, The Bottleneck in a Production Line, Inventory Turns, Throughput, and Capacity. Now I’m looking at every multi-step process in my life with new eyes. I even found The Seven Sources of Waste – and hence the opportunities for improved efficiency – in the Indian vegetable curry and garlic naan I made for dinner yesterday evening.
- Overproduction. There are only two of us, but my naan recipe produced 12 fluffy pieces of bread.
- Transportation. The spice packet I used to flavor my curry was produced in India. I purchased it in St. Louis, MO and packed it in my shipment to Rwanda, where my husband and I are stationed. Talk about transportation! If only I could find Indian spice packets locally.
- Re-work. My inexperienced hands took multiple attempts to form round naan. In the end, they were still uneven – but delicious.
- Over-processing. I budgeted too much time for the curry, and too little for the bread, so the curry ended up cooking longer than it needed to. No effect on the taste, but a small amount of wasted electricity.
- Unnecessary motion. Why are cutting boards always too small? Seems like I’m constantly going back and forth between the cutting board and the pot on the stove.
- Inventory. All those chopped veggies ready to go into the pot. In Operations Management, “inventory” is the item that is going through the process – in this case vegetables going through a process of becoming curry.
- Waiting– for the web page with the recipe to load. Could Rwanda’s internet be any slower?