With my wife trying to focus on our newest family member I decided to do the laundry this past week. It’s been awhile since I’ve done the laundry and some things have definitely changed.
Before, what I’m calling laundry kaizen, we used to throw all of our dirty clothes into a hamper in the closet.
Then, when it was laundry time we’d dump all the clothes out and sort them as needed – colors, whites, delicates, etc.
After sorting we’d carry a load to the washing machine for the first load. While I didn’t do any formal time studies, I think it’s safe to say this “sorting to first load” process took at least 20 to 30 minutes (more when the kids tried to ‘help’ out).
Well, as I’ve written before, my wife really gets this lean stuff. As such, she identified much waste in the “before” process. Specifically, there was a tremendous amount of wasted time associated with sorting clothes. Also, there was a lot of excess motion/transportation as she walked back and forth from the piles of clothes in the closet(s) to the washing machine.
So, to improve the system she purchased a clothes sorting contraption (see picture). When we’re ready to place our dirty clothes into the hamper we put them into the correct bin. We have a bin for colors, whites, and delicates/towels. You can’t tell from the picture but these bins are also on wheels, an often forgotten aspect of lean equipment design.
Now, when it’s time to do laundry, all we have to do is wheel the whole cart to the washing machine – bringing it to point of use. This eliminates all those trips back and forth.
But the biggest advantage is the fact that we don’t need to do much, if any, sorting of clothes. Instead, we can dump the bins straight into the washer, add soap, and get on with our day.
There are many benefits as a result of this laundry kaizen.
For one, we are now able to level load (pun intended) the process a bit more than before. When we see a bin almost full we can do a load of laundry. It’s far more visual than before when all we saw was a huge mound of mixed up inventory – I mean clothes – piling up.
And as it relates to time savings… I estimate my wife has cut out at least 30 minutes of cycle time from the weekly laundry process.
When I mentioned this to her, she said this is being far too conservative and that when you add in all the kids clothes (they also have similar bins to pre-sort their clothes) the time savings are much more.
Anyhow, staying conservative, 30 minutes per week times 52 weeks equates to 26 hours per year. With 4 kids this is a huge benefit!
How about you?
What about you? Do you have any laundry or home kaizen tips you can share? Or do you have any thoughts as to how we could further improve our existing laundry process?
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