France’s La Poste Applies Lean to Electric Bike Repairs


La Poste, France’s national postal service company, runs a sorting and distribution center in Roubaix, in the north of the country, which I am visiting with Nathalie Lagrenée, North Operations Director. Nathalie is one of the very few women lean leaders I know, and every day she lives and breathes the essence of lean thinking: learning from the gemba.

“Our postmen heavily rely on their electric bikes to manage their deliveries. They learn to ride them, and they adjust them to their needs (height, brakes, load balancing over the various compartments) until they feel completely comfortable with them. Up until 2016, malfunctions or safety issues typically turned out to be a big nuisance, because the bike had to be sent out to an external servicing facility to be repaired and our postmen had to switch to a replacement bike they didn’t trust for an unspecified number of days.”

The bikes in need of fixing were batched to optimize the load of the transportation vehicle. The transfer would only be arranged once a minimum number of bikes was reached. Add the waiting time for repair and collection, and it is not surprising that the lead-time varied between 7 to 30 days, not to mention the complexity of having to maintain a number of replacement bikes at the center. The consequence was that safety issues and basic preventive maintenance were at times by-passed or looked over by postmen, to avoid losing their precious vehicle.

Read how they reduced batch sizes, improved working conditions for repairs, reduced space needs, and improved communication.

Read the full article at: https://planet-lean.com/lean-delivery/


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