Lean Product Design

I've been doing some 5S audits lately so I'm fairly sensitive to detail. I knew I was in trouble while at the gas station, the design of gas cap cover caught my eye. Here is what I saw:

What do you see? What wastes can you see here? Are there hidden wastes? I'd like to get some comments on this.

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At August 12, 2008 at 11:09 PM , Blogger Islands Innovation said...


First why wrap around the edge there at the bottom.

Second, why have a door, and/or a fuel cap? Seems to me I've seen cars that don't use a fuel door, just a hole to shove the nozzle in.

And why do I need to open my hood to fill up the windshield washer? Shouldn't there be a filler right under that door? If I can gas that way, why not a windshield washer dispenser right next to the gas pump. Charge me by the gallon. No plastic bottle, or boxes of bottles cluttering the store. And this way, in the winter when a storms coming, I can top off my windshield wash and I'll know its full. With the current method, I need to open the hood just to check. It's usually not completely empty, so I'll fill it with a fresh gallon and have some left over. Then I need to throw that in my trunk, and open my hood again to use the rest of it.

The only redeeming thing about bottled windshield wash is the thick plastic bottle, which I use for waste motor oil.

(And why do I need to crawl under my car to drain the oil......)

At August 12, 2008 at 11:51 PM , Blogger Bryan said...


As usual you are on a roll...:)

For now, let's focus on the gas cover. I saw the same thing as you: why is the bottom edge rolled over? I think the obvious answer is to match the "edge" styling on the back of this Jeep Liberty.

So what is the effect if we were to follow this cover through the entire manufacturing process? What are the effects? Could some of the effects, due to the bent edge, be classified as waste?

At August 15, 2008 at 11:29 PM , Blogger Islands Innovation said...


I seems to me it is waste, because in the design, the location of the door could probably easily be moved up a 1/2" to rest on the flat surface.

My guess is an example of the fuel systems team not working with the body team. The fuel guys say the hose goes here, and the body guys have to make it fit.

The principle of set-based concurrent engineering (SBCE) would suggest that the two teams (and probably others) did not develop enough options for a better integrated design. The tendency is to freeze the design too soon, before effective compromise designs could be developed that lead to a better final product. The fuel guys freeze the tank design, and dig in their heels on the location of the host. The body guys then work-around that location to arrive at a less that optimal design.

That drives up cost, and prompts bloggers to question the design intent, which makes googlers wonder also, and go by a Honda or Toyota which doesn't have these problems. The reason they don't have these problems is they build teamwork into their design process so the fuel guys and body guys "mash up" throughout the design, and with each daily conversation slowly, incrementally arrive at a design that has lowest cost, highest reliability, and lowest "What Were They Thinking..?!?!" factor.

Much better than bitter email wars on who's fault it is that this blogger found such an obvious design defect!! Unfortunately that's the all to common result...

OK I guess the roll continues...must be the nice weather finally. :)

At August 22, 2016 at 1:46 AM , Blogger Naviya Nair said...

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