Lean Pizza

Pizza Margareta

Photo credit: Wikipedia

My wife and I decided to partake in a great Midwestern tradition by ordering a Friday night pizza not too long ago.  Pizza is very popular in Chicago where you will find many choices of styles and pizzerias.  Thankfully we are not limited to national delivery chains.  We decided to try a new local independent pub known for their (pizza) pie.

I phone in the order and am pleased to hear that it will be ready for pick-up in 20 minutes.  This pub is only a few blocks away so I am able to arrive right on time.  I am informed that my order won’t be ready for another 10 minutes which is OK since we are looking for a good quality pie.  I notice that there are not a lot of patrons but think to myself that it’s still pretty early.  I ask the young host if they have been busy.  His replies, “Not really, we’re slow for a Friday.”  Just then the phone rings and the same host takes the call.  “It’s going to be at least 40 minutes for your order.  Our oven has room for 8 pizzas and it’s full right now.”

Let me get this straight.  It’s early on a Friday night.  It’s a bit slow for a Friday yet we are making customers wait longer than the accepted norm because orders are exceeding capacity.

What Lean lessons come to mind from that discussion?  It’s pretty clear that they didn’t have the capacity to match the required cycle time (takt time) of a Friday night surge in business with their current process.

An obvious solution is to increase capacity by purchasing more ovens and possibly adding on to the kitchen.  Frankly it looks like this is needed in this particular case.  But Lean thinkers don’t jump to the high cost solution without exploring all options.  How can we improve the flow without capital investment?  Are the next wave of pizzas ready to go in the oven as soon as the others come out?  Should marketing run some early bird or mid-week specials to utilize unused capacity and ease the Friday night rush?

Can you think of any Lean principles that this small business owner should consider before making a capital investment?  Can you think of a time when your team should have dug deeper for a low-cost solution for an issue at your plant? What have you done to increase your capacity utilization without buying more equipment? Please share your ideas below.


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About Christian Paulsen

Christian Paulsen is an Executive Consultant with 20 years of Lean Manufacturing. Chris adds value to organizations by driving process improvement and bottom line savings. Chris intends to help others by sharing the lessons learned after a quarter century of operational leadership, marriage, parenting, and even longer as a Cubs fan. Your comments on this blog are welcome. You can also connect with Chris via LinnkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in the right sidebar. Chris welcomes your comments. Christian's professional services are available by contacting him through LinkedIn (right side bar)
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