Sunday, May 03, 2009

Structural Waste

The dome light went out on my car last week.  I headed to the car parts store, looked up the proper replacement bulb in the catalog next to the bulb section, found the bulb and then stopped.
I have one bulb in my dome light.  Every car I've ever owned has had only one bulb in the dome light.  Yet the blister pack hanging on the rack at the part store had two identical bulbs in it.  Not one. 
With no alternative and considering the $3.29 price for two bulbs to not be worth making a fuss, I bought two bulbs.  One went into my car and the other onto the shelf in my garage which captures all miscellaneous parts. 
And I'll forget it is there.
In three or five years, I'll need another dome light and do the same thing all over again, leaving me with two orphaned dome lights gathering dust on my garage shelf.
So why two bulbs on the blister pack? 
Probably a decision to "add value"...for the manufacturer.  Double the output, double the price, all with the same cost for distribution.  
Yet it is waste for the end user. 
What do we think of when we make these decisions?  The end user?  The one who will complain? 
It is not as trivial as it looks, in the rough-and-tumble of business.  It is also a measure of a firm's commitment to reducing waste.  But does someone inside the firm "speak for the customer" in such discussions?  And, if she does, does anyone listen?


Tim McMahon said...

There is a huge number of items in our society like this. It is very hard to get the quantity you need. Have you ever been to one of those wharehouse stores that sell in bulk. You can save money but you need a lot of storage capacity. There is a need to understand the packaging requirements of the consumer. I suppose that is what market research and surveys are suppose to do. In our plant we are using plastics storage bins and wanted red, yellow, and green to use as part of a kanban. The min purchase quantity is one case per each when all we needed was one of each. The EOC (economic order quantity) should be one but not everyone has found there way along this lean journey.

bernt.fagerroth said...

Argument for the two pac:

Light bulps tend to have on average the same live span. So its vice to change both of the head lamps at the same time. If you do this every time you save as the work halves.

New cars tend to have very bad design conserning the ease of lamp change...

Maybe a local free of charge distribution storage for used but not dead items could solve the waste problem as there are allways people who dont care for the extra effort and can use the remaining time left for the changed item. (any similar item)

btw you could supply your extra items there anyhow and support yourt community this way

bernt.fagerroth said...

oh, my mistake the dome light never doubles... so you're right there.

Maybe two lamps exceeds the price of the package...