Could Applying TPS to Elevator PLC Programs Worldwide, Save Billions?
Most of the time discussion surrounding TPS, Lean-Six Sigma, and component thereof are about implementing, adapting other’s best practices and sustaining the initiative. In the spirit of constant improvement, instead of talking and reading about how to duplicate other’s success, I lean (pun intended) towards new applications, improvement through automation and using today’s technology to make TPS more lean and successful.
I usually advocate on what I call “Lean to the Top” encouraging others to apply Lean (TPS) throughout their company meaning don’t stop with production and office workers, TPS the sales team and executive management too. But this time want to focus on new applications and automation.
Out of the hundreds of examples for new automated application of TPS, I propose here the elevator application idea. It is one of my favorites, as it not only demonstrates a new application, but using automation to implement. In addition, as I ride one of the 4 elevators to the top of our building, I am running the PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) control program in my head seeing all the inefficient wasted time and motion. Commonly the resting place for the unused elevators is the 1st floor, sometimes the elevator PLC program leaves elevator where it last drop off someone. Because most of the elevator industry has not heard of TPS and/or thought to apply the methodology to elevator PLC program design, customers wait longer than they have to and more importantly, there is much wasted travel, wear and energy use.
If in reality, the first floor is only the busiest during certain times of day, like in the morning before work, and evening after work. Therefore, for 2 hours out of a 10 hours day, they operate reasonable efficiently. The rest of the 80% of time, extreme waste is experienced (maybe 70% because lunch traffic is similar to start/end time of workday). When they could use automation to predict where the most optimum floor for each particular elevator to rest, for that particular time of day, that particular day of week, that particular building. The TPS elevator PLC program could even be auto-adaptable, monitoring it own use to predict where is best placement during idle time.
TPS Elevator PLC Program Examples: Elevator #3 might learn the 8th floor has constant traffic all day long 5 days a week due to the company leasing an office on 8th floor is recruiting company. Therefore, the TPS PLC elevator program makes sure one of the 4 elevators always rest on the 8th floor. However, it has to be an automated prediction, because that company on the 8th floor may move to another building when their lease expires. The resulting TPS elevator PLC program will most likely have one elevator idle on first floor from 7am-6pm, after 6pm when cleaning crew is primarily the only elevator users program may automatically adapt to leaving elevator on floor someone last exited.
Elevator program may learn on Saturday, the 2nd floor has the most traffic and adapt accordingly. The elevator PLC program may count number of pickups and drop-offs on each floor. Further TPS improvements could be made if automation sensor where added (like motion sensor to see if someone is waiting, inside elevator, vision recognition to see if people heading towards elevators, smart phone app so elevator knows worker is coming ahead of time, etc.)
TPS Example 2: A time study or estimation may show that often customers go to both the “B” and the “L”. A RCA of the problem may result in a kaizen for button labels created to spell out “Basement” and “Lobby”, saving thousands a year by reducing the operator error.
- What other ways do you see TPS being applied to Elevator PLC programs?
- Do you have any other examples of how TPS can be automated?
- Do you have an idea of a new places to apply the TPS methodology to?
Please share if you do, I would love to hear and discuss your ideas.