What do a train and Formula One have in common? Lean and predictive analytics
I hate Formula 1 racing, but I love watching a pit stop. As a process improver my mouth drops open in admiration. It is the epitome of a Lean process. Every non-value add step has been removed. If you love watching the sport or cars in general, there is a place many enthusiasts hang out: https://www.grandprixtimes.com
They even use software to monitor the cars’ performance on track and predict exactly the work the car will need done to it before it arrives. So they combine predictive analytics and process optimization to make them even more Lean. They can change all 4 tires on a car in just 4 seconds!
It’s no wonder the UK’s Virgin trains have turned to Formula 1 for inspiration on how to minimize their repair times. With process improvement advice from the Williams team Virgin have got repair times for some jobs down from 12 hours to 4.
“It is all down to making sure you have the right part in the right place with the right engineer at the right time. That is what F1 pit teams have honed to perfection, something I experienced first hand at the Williams factory.” said journalist Richard Westcott.
I wonder whether they did a high level Value Stream Map first? Lean is all about being customer focused. Apparently the biggest bottleneck in the Virgin trains’ process from the customer perspective is the delays caused by the track failures. Theory of constraints would say fix that first. As often happens with Lean projects too many teams take a silo view of the process, that’s where simulation often helps to get that end to end whole system view, but that’s a whole other post for another day.
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