Ending Hunger in Boston with Lean

Just like their for­-profit peers, nonprofit organizations, including food banks, deal with a lack of timely deliveries and other logistical complications. Since these problems are just like similar issues that plague warehousing and manufacturing, lean and the Toyota Production System (TPS) are ideal strategies to remove these obstacles.

Several years ago, The Greater Boston Food Bank in Boston faced issues with how long refrigerated foods sat on the loading dock waiting to be picked up. The food bank’s mission is to end hunger and provide at least one meal a day to every person in need in Eastern Massachusetts. Numerous organizations pick up items from the food bank and deliver the food to needy people.

Luckily, the food bank had a connection with Babson College. And in July 2013, Wiljeana J. Glover, assistant professor of technology, operations and information management at the college, developed a group dedicated to improving the food bank’s systems. The team included Glover, some of her students, operations and warehouse management from the food bank, and the Toyota Production System Support Centre (TPSSC), a nonprofit Toyota subsidiary that has helped implement TPS outside of Toyota since 1992.

At that time, The Greater Boston Food Bank was delivering about 49 million pounds of food. The food bank had a large warehouse with a lot of space for dry goods. Unfortunately, Glover said, the refrigerated section was much smaller than the dry food section given the volume of food that passes through. For Glover and her group, it was a matter of developing a way to use this space more efficiently to get more food out the door to people in need

Read more at: Ending Hunger With Lean from Industrial and Systems Engineer (ISE) magazine