One of the things I have commented on a few times has been the British cycling/Sky Pro Cycling teams approach to continuous improvement, or as they call the it the “aggregation of marginal gains”.
So what has this got to do with Lean Manufacturing well nothing and lots. Nothing in that this a is about sport and about cycling which is one of the odder sports out there (one I am passionate about). If it takes you 3 weeks to work out the winner of a race, how is that efficient? And to keep your customers interested, i.e. deliver value to them you end up cramming in a collection of extra competitions such as points and KOM you end up with a messy picture that confuses some newer customers. And in other ways it has everything to do with Lean. Lean is simply about understanding and delivering customer value and increasing the amount of value you can deliver most often by eliminating waste. For Team Sky, value is getting the sponsor’s logo as much positive exposure as possible and the best way is by winning races.
Bike races like the current Giro d’Italia or Tour de France can be lost or won by the smallest of margins. Last year the difference between first and second and the Giro was just 16 seconds. Small differences count in these races.
Ready for rain
“Each rider gets a rain bag, and Sky's feature labeled pockets for each piece of clothing to decrease the time spent searching for the right item. Mechanics will dole out clothing out of the car as the riders roll along. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com”
“A pocket for each type of clothing on the Sky rain bags. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com”
Imagine the situation, rain has started to fall. The cyclist calls over to the support car for gloves and a rain jacket to keep warm. In the crowded confines of a car the team mechanic grabs the wrong size jacket and gloves for the cyclist. Time is wasted as the right kit is sorted and the cyclist performance is risked as they get cold and wet.
It is attention to detail as simple and possibly mundane as this that makes the difference. Some people would say its just doing simple 5S and a good example of ‘Set’ and in ways it is. What is more important is the reason it is done is and that is to increase the chance of winning and who doesn’t want to win.