Pit Stop!

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Mark Graban posted a great video showing the dramatic differences between the same process being performed 60 years apart. Formula 1 Pit Stops 1950 & Today… a Huge Difference. I love seeing videos like this, because it can show huge advancements in a short clip, while cutting out all the incremental changes needed to get there. Often in our business roles we (should at least) change things incrementally for the better, day by day so it is hard to see the overall impact of our actions.JimRathmann_01_1000

I am also a car guy, so this video is just plain awesome anyways.

What I really like about this clip is that it shows a couple major components of lean and CPI being practiced ‘out in nature,’ not in the business environment. In the motorsports community it is well known, races are won or lost in the pits, not on the racetrack. Of course no one goes to the races to watch the pits, and that’s a shame. Assuming the average speed around a racetrack is 100MPH, that means every additional second a racer spends in the pits compared to his competition means 147 feet lost on the track. That means 2 extra seconds means the racer is now a football field behind, which is difficult and risky to make up on the racing track.

Value Stream events teach us to map out a workflow or process and identify individual steps than can be ranked in terms of their impact, and in terms of their effort level to change. Take racing for example, the goal is to decrease overall lap time to be quicker than all your opponents. To do this you must be faster on the track then your competition. This takes a lot of effort, and the risk increases significantly the more you push. Overall, high impact and high risk.

Pit stops are another part of the process that apply to everyone in the race. The effort required to decrease time in the pits is relatively low effort through coordination and technology, and can be highly impactful on the race course if it can mean a football field of advantage every 2 seconds. Seems like the easy areas to streamline would be the pitstop!

Now, zoom in on the pitstop.

In the case of the 1950 Formula 1 stop, it is pretty clear that there are too few people doing linear tasks with too much time in between steps. If you competition is also taking 60 seconds in the pits, no big deal. Once your competition figures out how to drop 5 seconds, you are in a world of hurt. Hindsight is 20-20, but the 50’s pitstop was full of opportunities! Look at mapping out the subtasks, and determining which steps have dependencies. You have to jack up the car before changing the tire, check. Once the car is lifted, why not change 2 tires concurrently by adding another resource? Big time savings. To go a little further, why not jack both sides of the car up at once? Then all 4 tires can be changed at one time, brilliant!

Tools and technology obviously take a big role here, but evolution can still play a part. In 1950 the crew member used a hammer to beat the lug-spinner off the hub to change the tire. Of course air impacts were not available in 1950, but I’m sure a BFH was (Big F****gin Hammer to non-gear heads). Instead of beating on the spinner for 10 seconds with a small hammer, do it in 2! Now give each resource at each wheel (workstation) the right tool, and you have another big opportunity that multiplies itself by 4. Jump forward to 2013 and you will see the result of 60 years of evolution, multiple coordinated resources on the same task, each with his own tools, each with his own work step instructions. The result is impressive. What took 70 seconds in 1950 took less than 3 in 2013. Don’t split hairs about the exact work not being one-for-one between these stops, just marvel in their beauty.

Some big-hitters of time and effort waste cF1 Grand Prix of Malaysiaan be cut from the early pitstop with ease. Once those have been corrected there are still a number of CPI steps that can, and have happened over the years. Staging of workstations, staging of tools, balancing of work steps to minimize idle time of resources, combination of steps such as pre-loading of lug nuts into the tools, of in the 2013 case have 2 sets of tools at each wheel, one pre-set for ‘off’, one pre-set for ‘on’. All fractions of a second, but all add up.

In the end, the race is won through coordinated efforts in a low-risk environment when the car is stopped. This is less risky than relying on the driver to make up football fields on the track while barreling towards a corner at 100MPH +.

Call me a car nut, but I love it.

Can you apply any of this in your business?

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