Operations Payoff

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Know Parkinson’s Law to Reduce Waste

Parkinson’s Law – work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion, first appeared in 1955 in an article in The Economist. This law applies to almost every manufacturing and distribution company I have toured. If times are slow, people seem to be working just as hard as if times are busy. They can be masters at this to help save their jobs.

I have also seen the law apply to inventory. Just the other day I was touring a plant and there were gas bottles in a rack. The rack was filled by the supplier and the key word is filled. The rack was big enough to hold about 15 bottles, yet the usage was about one per week. Thus, when filled, there was 15 weeks’ worth of bottles. The supplier visited the plant weekly to resupply various items. Why should the company buy so much when two, maybe three would do? Clearly, being careful to size storage containers correctly can contribute greatly to inventory reduction and matching of expense to activity.

Watching for Parkinson’s Law in any company should help reduce waste and increase profitability.

© 2010 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved


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