Environmental Sampling and Reporting goes Lean

Completing environmental reporting for the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill is a complex process. With complicated record keeping, a long distance from sampling location to laboratory, and equipment and software challenges, the group responsible for environmental sampling and reporting knew there had to be a better way.

The first improvement they made involved transportation. On a normal day, the group would collect their samples at Cedar Hills and then send two trucks to the lab so the samples could be tested.  The team realized if they consolidated the samples only one truck would have to make the 90-minute drive to the lab. Measurement of this initiative shows this effort works 97 percent of the time, saving 90 minutes of staff time each day the group samples at Cedar Hills.  Though this improvement project only addressed Cedar Hills, the staff will consider applying their methods at other locations.

The second improvement dealt with improving access to data. Environmental reporting for Cedar Hills requires gathering data from multiple places and people. The main problem was not everyone knew where the data was kept and not everyone could access it. To alleviate this problem, the team created a map of where Cedar Hills related data is kept.  They are considering expanding this process to cover other locations are working to provide access to everyone that needs it.


Finally, the group took on the ways it shares its sampling results between people in the field and those downtown.

A root cause analysis showed two problems – difficulties with software development and hardware. The group decided to take on the hardware issue. Borrowing equipment from IT, the team did a side-by-side test and discovered the alternate machinery loaded 90 percent faster and could withstand field conditions. A successful negotiation with IT allowed the team to trade in their old equipment for newer machines at minimal cost.

Now that the hardware issue has been resolved, Solid Waste Division leadership is considering alternatives for software development and implementation.

Contributed by: Matt Manguso and Kathy Hashagen

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