Blog Posts Lean Initiatives Help to Combat Coronavirus

“Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable”
~ physicist William Pollard

Continuous improvement has always been an essential aspect of Saddle Creek culture, but it has taken on critical importance in recent weeks as we strive to ensure the highest possible safety standards. With the outbreak of COVID-19, our Lean and Safety teams have been laser-focused on making operations safer for our associates.

Small Improvements Make Big Impact on Safety

In our on-going efforts to ensure the health and well-being of associates, Saddle Creek has utilized the A3 approach to problem solving. Often used to drive continuous improvement, this Lean Six Sigma methodology views problems as opportunities for improvement and applies a clearly defined process for solving them.

As a result, our facilities across the country are implementing a number of new initiatives to ensure safety. Examples include:

Hands-free handles. Since touching door handles can increase the spread of germs, latching handles were replaced with a step-and-pull option for high-traffic doors that don’t latch, such as doors to breakrooms and restrooms. Visual aids help remind associates about the new system.

Improved partitions. To help minimize personal contact, new plexiglass partitions were installed to provide separation between drivers and dispatchers. A vented speaker box in a receiving window was replaced with a new model equipped with microphones that eliminates exposure through the vent.

Increased social distancing. In the transportation department, more space has been added between associate kiosks to ensure the necessary 6-foot distance. In the warehouse, a one-way walking path with markers at 6-foot intervals help to reduce congestion at the time clock. Signs, stanchions, and arrows help to guide associates through the line.

Convenient cleaning supplies. Material handling equipment must be cleaned before and after each use. To make the process more convenient and efficient, teams now use mobile carts pre-stocked with disinfectant, cleaning solutions and toweling.

As part of the A3 process, details about each initiative are captured in a concise one-page report that can be shared with – and replicated at – other Saddle Creek facilities.

As we navigate the inevitable changes that lie ahead, improvements like these will help to ensure the safety of our associates.