The Hair Dressing Manufacturing Plant

I just had my haircut in QB House today. It is not my first time in these 10 min haircut kinda shop, but this visit (together with my training as a Manufacturing Engineer) suddenly changed my perspective of QB House.

It felt like I was walking into a Japanese Manufacturing Plant with Lean Manufacturing, One Piece Flow, 5S, Kanban, Six Sigma, written all over the walls of the approx 3m by 5m QB House shop.

It looks like they got the Value Stream Map all figured out and has removed all the “Muda” waste in the Value Chain – Getting your Hair Cut in 10 Minutes in Clean n Fashionable way.

First, they have their customers purchasing tickets to cut their hair so that the hairdressers can focus on the Real Value Added Activity – Hair Dressing. In fact, the hair dressers only do 3 things: Greet their customers, Hair Dressing, and tidy up the place after each haircut. A continuous One Piece Flow. No time and resources wasted.

Second, they have their customers sit down in a line (in order of sequence), like a line of raw materials waiting to be manufactured. Family members and friends are not allowed to be in the shop, and their customers have to be sitting in the line of sequence. A perfect Kanban (signal device) system which signals to their hairdressers how many WIP (work-in-progress) they have.

Third, they have their “workshop” very well designed for 5S. The compartment for sterilizers, the broom within reach to clean up the hair on the floor, followed by a vacuum cleaner (that is very well designed into the hair dressing table) to suck all the hair on the ground probably into a maintain the super clean “workshop”. Probably lots of DFM (Design for Manufacturing) concepts incorporated.

Forth, they have sensors even on the chair that you are sitting on when you get your haircut. I was told that it is used to measure the time taken to cut your hair, so the system will probably be able to generate a control chart to make sure that the manufacturing process is in control, and most importantly, within specifications – 10 minute cut.

I am actually impressed by these Japanese companies so focussed on Lean, providing a truly different hair cutting experience. Having said that, I do think at times the ‘customers’ should not be treated as ‘products’. I am quite surprised that they do not even allow the parents of a kid (probably less than 5 years old) to sit with him inside the shop. I think that is really a step too far in their “Lean Concept”.

Anyhow, for the Manufacturing Dudes, you can pay QB a visit. I am sure there is something we can learn there.


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