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PennDOT Lean Success Stories Continue to Multiply

March 24, 2022 09:00 AM
By: PennDOT Bureau of Innovations

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​PennDOT has seen many Lean accomplishments over the past year, several of which have resulted in huge efficiency gains for the department. Across our organization, employees are taking the initiative to review the work they are doing every day and look for opportunities to work more efficiently. Here are three recent Lean successes that resulted in transformative benefits for the department and the way we perform our operations.  

Ensuring roadway projects are done accurately and efficiently is number one priority at PennDOT. A team within the department's Operations and Performance Office (OPO) embarked upon a Lean project that resulted in dramatic improvements in PennDOT's Quality Assurance (QA) Review Process. OPO performs QA field reviews for highway and bridge maintenance operations across the PennDOT system. Previously, reports and supporting documentation for these QA reviews were paper based.

"With the paper-based version, the process for routing, cataloguing and performing trend analysis of QA reviews and supporting documentation was time intensive and wasn't transparent," said Chris Roehm, OPO's Lean Coordinator.

To resolve the issue, OPO developed and implemented a QA Database and Integrated Remote QA Application to facilitate QA results, provide centralized storage of QA results and documentation, and standardize QA reporting. This drastically reduced process workflows and timeframes for all parties involved, as hardcopy forms, scanning, emailing documents and manually entering scores into a spreadsheet have been replaced with a modern-day system that can provide same day delivery of QA results, practically in real-time.

Another great way to incorporate Lean into the work you do every day is to do an organizational clean up on anything that needs organized better. This Lean tool is referred to as 5S: Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize and Sustain.

With a team in the agency's District 1 office, in northwestern Pennsylvania, looking and planning ahead for its next project, they found that their files were filled with outdated materials and decided it was time to tackle the reams of materials as part of a virtual housecleaning.

"We collaborated and identified that we needed to clean this up and standardize the (computer) drives and get rid of stuff we had dating back to 2006," then District 1 Lean Coordinator Marvin Hall said. "There were multiple versions of files, many duplicates and files stored in incorrect folders, which meant wasted time and significant frustration searching for needed information, often taking several minutes or hours to find files."

The new layout is clean, organized and easily accessible; folders are organized and maintained each month or as needed by members of the Information Data Management (IDM) Unit, and audits are performed either monthly or quarterly.

"The IDM Unit is District 1's leading effort in the process improvement and 5S methodologies, and we felt cleaning up our filing system was essential to setting the example," said Hall.

Lastly, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, PennDOT's critical mission of holding administrative hearings for driver licensing issues was severely impacted. In-person hearing could not be held, and that exacerbated already tough issues with tracking and processing hearing-related matters.

In response, Kelly Morales, manager of the Driver Safety and Improvement Unit in PennDOT's Bureau of Driver Licensing, deployed what she had learned from her interest in Lean tools and strategies. She and her team mapped out how hearings were conducted and identified wastes and improvement opportunities. It included a new early review process and reduced steps for the docket clerk.

"We reined it in, and now when work comes in and petitions come in, they are reviewed first," Morales said. "I preach highly of Lean," she said, noting that you always need to look at everything you do each day and ask why you are doing it a certain way that may need reconfiguring. "This has really worked, and I continue to monitor it and look for ways to move it to other areas."

For more information about these and other PennDOT Lean successes, contact PennDOT's Bureau of Innovations at DOTInnovations@pa.gov.  


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