Toyota Donates its ‘Kaizen’ to Improve Food Bank Efficiency

Toyota Donates its ‘Kaizen’ to Improve Food Bank Efficiency

Toyota decided to donate its engineers to the Food Bank for New York City, finding ways to improve its efficiency with “kaizen,” a Japanese word for continuous improvement.

The Japanese automaker’s engineers worked with the food bank to optimize flow and quality with small changes that added up to equal big results. At a soup kitchen in Harlem, the engineers helped drop the wait time from as much as 90 minutes to 18 minutes. Average time spent filling bags at a food pantry in Staten Island went from 11 minutes to six minutes. Even at a warehouse in Brooklyn, where volunteers are responsible for packing boxes for Hurricane Sandy relief, Toyota’s engineers were able to cut down the time to pack a single box from three minutes to merely 11 seconds.

It’s a different form of company philanthropy, and is a first for the automaker. Instead of donating money to the cause, Toyota lends its expertise to help make the system more efficient and effective. It wasn’t just all about making things quicker however, Toyota also found ways to save money. At the warehouse in Brooklyn for example, Toyota engineer, Lisa Richardson, noticed that the Food Bank was using standard boxes that were 12 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches, but not all the space was being used up. Richardson then changed the box size to a 16 by 8 by 8, allowing the workers to pack each box more tightly while allowing more boxes to fit in a single truck.

Toyota will be heading to the Food Bank’s 90,000 square feet warehouse in the Bronx next, hoping to help optimize space and delivery routes.

[Source: New York Times]

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  • Alfie

    Fascinating story. Gotta love the thinking at Toyota.