New Mobile Launch Unit Embodies Spirit of SDO

Innovative solution to creative idea

Irvine, Calif. – It all started with one simple idea. “What if we could punch in outside?” The question was posed by a driver at Irvine in Southern California, a site certified in Service Delivery Optimization. In keeping with the principles of SDO — increasing efficiency, improving communication, and enhancing customer service — a new “mobile launch unit” was invented to answer that simple question.

“After we became SDO certified and the coaches packed up and left, the real test began,” explains Tom Koutroulis, district manager of Orange County. “One of the misconceptions about SDO is that it’s about implementing procedures and checking boxes — that has not been our experience. SDO has been about changes in mindset, behavior and culture that have directly resulted in sustainable, long term results.” 

In order to increase efficiency, huddles were moved into the yard to save time in the morning. This is where the question comes in about heading straight for the trucks after punching in instead of taking the time to go inside. Before SDO, that question would likely have remained unanswered. Now that SDO was part of the new mindset, the team took that one little idea and began researching possibilities.

First, the team looked at how much time would really be saved if a new procedure as created. They discovered that saving one minute per day for each driver would actually save $70,000 per year. This was significant enough to take the next step sourcing materials. An unused trailer and framework were used for the base, shelves were designed to house the time clock and routing materials needed for each driver.

A built-in laptop stand, huddle board and lights were added to the design. Now each morning, other than safety training days, the mobile launch unit is the gathering point to start the day.

“The best part about the entire process is how involved everyone was in the design process. Cultivating a mindset to embrace change and focus on how we can gain a competitive advantage brought out the best in drivers, route managers, employees in the shop, and everyone else at our site,” says Koutroulis.

The work on the mobile launch site isn’t finished yet. A remote lighting system timed to go on when the crew is launching, a spot for a projector for training efforts and other innovations are in the works based on employee input. 

“It has been a labor of love with a lot of interaction and participation by the front-line employees,” explains Koutroulis. “We are in an extremely competitive market, so anything we can do to help improve our efficiency and customer service will help the long-term stability of our company.”

Heading into the second half of the year, the company’s ultimate goal is for 80 percent of all routes to become certified. Congratulations to all of the certified sites and those in process, as the Irvine site illustrates, becoming certified is only the beginning of the SDO journey.