Profiting At The Bottom Line™

This month’s focus: Are You Focused On The Wrong Fix.

There are times when you believe you’re focused on the right problem only to find out no matter what technique, fix, or other deliberate action you take as to rectify the issue; it grows worse with every remediation. The problem many times is we’re trying to correct where we believe, rather then where the true issue lies. e.g. Searching for greater tire discounts because you wear them out far above the average rather than correcting and maintaining the issue of proper alignment.

Case Study: We were delivering highly perishable food products during a relentless heat wave. It seamed there were a few of our semi trailers that were not keeping the temperature within the ranges we set. Great care was taken by all to ensure proper loading, setting and maintaining all the mechanical and so forth. Yet, the condition and results were the same. No noticeable improvement.

It was argued we needed newer equipment. It was obvious to everyone that the older equipment just couldn’t handle it. Reasons were given, explanations were offered, and everyone had an argument why. And finance had a reason for why not. e.g. Too expensive.

Come to find out the resolution had nothing in common with the arguments nor the fix.

It turned out after watching the trailers being loaded on the docks I spotted the problem. A newer dock worker was using pallets incorrectly when loading.

In the case of refrigerated containers pallets serve two functions. One is the openings as to allow the fork trucks to lift them. The second is they also serve as the air flow returns much as the vents in your home freezer work. If blocked your fridge just wont cool correctly.

It was standard operating procedure for trucks to have 2 empty pallets stood up on their end as to allow air flow back to the refrigeration units for proper cooling. However, they must be sure as to remove one of the boards on the end of each, if not, they block the returning air making the whole exercise moot.

Everyone knew this as a standard practice, except this worker. He was not new to freight, but he was new to refrigerated freight. No one caught the issue because it was happening intermittently. (even the drivers of the trucks themselves who are usually quick to spot such things missed it out of some form of familiarity blindness)

With the proper removal of two boards the issue was resolved saving us hundreds of thousands of dollars in immediate upgrades that we truly didn’t need.

The most common practice that everyone believed was in place and when asked to verify were able to answer truthfully in the affirmative. However, in reality it was only an illusion.

What was not an illusion was the money saved by not spending on the wrong fix that would have only resulted in a waste of valuable resources.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

Profiting At The Bottom Line™ is a monthly memo, which is pithy, powerful, and to the point. It focuses on innovative techniques and or ideas that you can put to work immediately in your daily or business life.