Facilities’ Stores team applying Lean Six Sigma to reduce order pick time

Sean Zheng, a Store Operator from Municipal Services within UBC Facilities and Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt graduate, recently implemented a simple yet effective process improvement that resulted in a 50% decrease in average custodial order pick time.


After studying people and produce movement in Stores, Sean noticed that some high-velocity products were stored in inventory further away from the staging area than other low-velocity products.

For example, the Stores team regularly supplies Custodial Services of Facilities with disinfectants stored in 5kg cartons, 21 meters from the staging area. Over the past year, disinfectants have been handled 270 times. This means:

  • 21 (meter) x 2 (round trip) x 270 (quantity) = 11,340 meters total distance travelled
  • Moving at 1 meter/second, this equates to 3.2 hours of movement


Applying his new Lean Six Sigma knowledge and techniques, Sean suggested relocating these higher moving items to an inventory location closer to the staging area. This solution not only helps eliminate travel time while staging order requests but also reduces the operator’s risk of back pain from material handling, protecting staff’s wellbeing and freeing up time for other activities.

The Stores team is excited to evaluate other inventory materials to continue driving efficiency in their processes. Thank you for driving the culture of continuous improvement in the VPFO, Sean — and for reminding us that simple incremental changes can make a massive difference in the workspace and the team!

The next cohort for Lean Six Sigma Yellow belt training will be held on October 14 & 17 at UBC Robson. If you are also interested in advancing in your Lean Six Sigma journey, visit the Lean Six Sigma training page.