How a Pop-Top Can Lid is Lean

Posted on January 21, 2012 | in Ergonomics, Lean Wastes, Motion, Personal, Time Savings | by

So as I was perusing Twitter, this tweet came along from Carrie Wilkerson, the Barefoot Executive (author, host, and blogger):

I can relate – my semi-typical breakfast is a can of pineapple chunks in fruit juice. (No syrup for me!) I choose this as my first meal because of nutrition and because, with the pop-top lid, it’s simple and I can take it on the go or eat it at home. I need flexibility sometimes.

From the viewpoint of efficiency, how has the pop-top can lid been a big improvement?

  • Simplicity – no tools needed. Old version: gotta have a can opener, be it hand-crank or electric. The fewer tools needed to get a job done, the better.
  • Faster to open. Lift tab and pull, and the can is open. It takes you all of a second or two and your opposite hands remains firmly grasped on the can. Manual can opener? Gotta find the can opener first, then put it on the can properly, followed by a bunch of hand cranks – what is that, 20-30 or so seconds and you’re not holding the can once your done. (Plus, how often does the lid fall into the soup or juice? Eww!) Even an electric can opener requires you to let loose of the can when it’s cutting. Nice time savings there.
  • No excess repetitive motion. That’s one of the prime advantages an electric can opener has over the manual style, but…
  • No utilities required. …you can’t use the electric can opener if the power’s out. One can easily open a pop-top can lid in the darkness of a power outage.
  • Safety. To follow up with the lid falling into the food (be it fruit juice, soup of low viscosity, whatever), you introduce dust and dirt into the food when it drops. In addition, the edges after popping the top are not nearly as sharp as when using a can opener.

So why exactly don’t we have  pop-top lids on all cans? Probably because of the extra costs. I also concede that when I’m grocery shopping, a 25-cent price point difference between pop-top lids versus not is not that big of a deal, but if the price difference approaches 40 cents per can, I’ll deal with the can opener.

What can you do to simplify your job? What changes can you make that will eliminate the need of a tool or remove excess motion? Simplify and reduce effort, and your creativity will be returned with time savings and then some.

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