Domino’s Pizza Boxes, Standardized Work, and Overproduction

Posted on September 21, 2012 | in Defects, Inventory, Lean Tools, Lean Wastes, Motion, Overproduction, Small Business, Standardized Work, Training | by

dominos pizza boxes domino's stack lean blitz consulting excess inventory overproduction standardized work

Just about every time I walk into a Domino’s Pizza shop I encounter a wall of pre-built pizza boxes. These stacks of boxes are generally on a shelf low to the ground (can’t put them ON the ground) but the box stacks reach the room’s ceiling. If you estimate 50 boxes per stack and 10 stacks or more, you’re looking at 500 boxes made far in advance of any pizza orders.

domino's dominos pizza boxes box stack overproduction inventory standardized work lean blitz consulting wastes

This is textbook overproduction – production of finished goods or components well in advance of a customer ordering them. Overproduction is a pretty serious waste for a few reasons:

– Causes buildup of inventory that takes up floor space and absorbs valuable store footprint
– Worker effort spent in advance to build the boxes and stack them, which is excess motion
– Potential for defects in the form of knocking boxes onto floor or spilling sauce or other pizza components on them (hey, it’s plausible)
– Use of operator or pizza maker time on excessive functions like this takes their time away from other potentially pressing matters like cleaning, organization, food preparation, or other processes
– Stacking excess boxes means exertion to place boxes up high or pull them down

In any event, time and money are being wasted. The stacks of boxes might look cool, but other matters probably are more deserving of attention.

However, Domino’s recently started airing a commercial showing off their fastest pizza box folder:

Yes, I concur that he folds boxes very quickly.

And here’s where standardized work could be extremely valuable.

If we assume that pizza box folder Dale is using the best practice for folding boxes (very quick and few defects if any), shouldn’t it be possible to train every other Domino’s staffer to follow this best practice too? Once the proper training and process is established, more staffers can replicate Dale’s success.

In addition, because he makes boxes so quickly with minimal wasted time or activity, couldn’t boxes be built up right when they are needed for orders? Every time a pizza is ordered, a staffer whips up a folded box, and it takes all of five seconds.

Domino’s is missing out on a great opportunity to cut wasteful activities from their processes and find a meaningful financial impact in doing so. They’re also laying it all out there for the world to see.

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8 Responses to “Domino’s Pizza Boxes, Standardized Work, and Overproduction”

  1. Mark Graban says:

    I agree it’s overproduction to make all of those boxes in advance… the stores might think it’s somehow a marketing thing or makes for a look and feel they want.

    It’s not “wasted motion” to make the boxes early… they were going to make the boxes anyway. It’s just overproduction because it’s done too early. The extra reaching and stacking might be wasted motion, but not the box making itself.

    One other risk is that a stack of boxes gets knocked over… that might lead to boxes being thrown away and that would definitely be wasted motion.

    • Chad Walters says:

      I guess I was trying to imply that the motion of making boxes early could be wasted if the boxes fall defective (again, the sauce splatters or stacks falling) or if Domino’s moves to a different box design. If the boxes get consumed then yes, motion is not wasted.

  2. Adrian says:

    Poor example of overproduction. The pizza business has very strong rushes but still has to be open “normal” hours. During morning hours the store is prepped, including box folding. Evening we sell them all, then nighttime is cleanup. It’s not a poor use of time to fold boxes during the day when there are no orders to fill; it’s a poor use of time to fold boxes in the middle of the dinner rush when there are customers orders to fill. All energy during the rush needs to be directed at serving the customer and making sure their order is filled fast and accurately, which is what drives repeat business, which is the goal.

    Also, the boxes come flat and unfolded; If the case is open and being folded and I spill sauce or another item on the boxes, I will likely ruin many of them. Unlikely more than 1 or two folded boxes would be ruined by an average accident.

  3. Duncan McDougall says:

    So to sum it up:
    – All overproduction is inventory
    – But not all inventory is overproduction
    Working in the chemical industry, I have seen many cases like this. Yes, there’s inventory sitting there. Yes, somebody had to spend time putting it in place. No, it is not waste motion because the alternative is actually to delay the next stage while the inventory builds up in front.

    • Chad Walters says:

      Duncan –

      Thank you for commenting.

      The only scenario where there is no wasted motion is if that motion is necessary to complete the process and there’s no way around it. It’s excess motion if someone has to walk a little further around excess inventory or they must reach further to complete their steps, but if the activity necessitates using motion so be it. It’s not necessarily excess motion if it’s done way earlier in the process than necessary, just untimely.

      In the ideal scenario, the inventory required for the next step in the process arrives and is available right when the next step requires it. Bringing it early means the inventory waits. A value stream map of this suggested process would show how long inventory waits or where the process bottleneck resides.

      Continuous flow (the ideal process state) implementation builds the flow from the end of the process and works back. Delaying the next stage is to move in the wrong direction, but if something earlier in the process risks slowing down downstream steps they could really use a good examination for waste activities. However, anytime inventory arrives and it waits, it might be a necessary motion to get it there but that time spent to put it in place could have been spent on more value-adding activities.

      It all depends on the scenario, really, but everything comes back to strategic use of time.

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  5. _ says:

    Domino’s operates out of a fairly small space wherever they are established, and their conveyor oven pushes out pizzas to a relatively small cut table only big enough to fit a few pizzas, and that cut table is built into the back of the front counter. When an order is placed, a printer at the front counter will print out stickers, a sticker for each box, and if the order is a delivery, there will be an additional ticket with delivery information on it. The CSR at the front counter has to affix each sticker to its appropriate box and then line it up in the queue of boxes on the overshelf of the front counter, an area that someone at the cut table can reach easily to box food out of the oven. The only time-consuming aspects of their process are hand-rolling dough, and cooking the pizza, but even cooking the pizza is pretty quick compared to a stone deck oven, and with an entire team of drivers to run the food that the oven is pumping out rapid-fire, those boxes go astoundingly fast.

    I’ve been doing pizza for seven years. In an environment like Domino’s, I’d rather have all those boxes folded, not to mention that there’s nothing else to do until orders start rolling in. When given the choice between twiddling thumbs and folding boxes, I fold boxes.

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