Challenge: Casters on office chairs breaking during transit

Action: Get to the manufacturing line

Results: Improved damage ratio so successfully that the process is still in place after 10 years

On a routine visit to check on service and delivery times, I was asked by my purchasing contact to meet with a few engineers to discuss a possible solution for product damage issues that were occurring in transit—the casters on chairs were breaking.

The meeting, which had already started around the actual production line, was in full swing. Ideas were flowing but many of the solutions I heard seemed over-engineered and very expensive. Being a longtime vendor, the group asked me if I had any bright ideas. Off the top of my head, I suggested a simple and inexpensive solution I thought might work. After explaining my idea, I looked around the group and saw a bunch of stunned faces.

The idea was this: Take a flat corrugated pad, glue 4 of the appropriate length and diameter mailing tubes on each corner, and place it in the bottom of the box. The chair would then be place in the box on top of the tubes. By doing this, the casters would be suspended, decreasing pressure and strain on each and reducing the possibility of one being broken in transit.

Best of all, the cost for each footer was under $2 each, saving the company huge amounts in returns and replacements. The idea was so successful that they have used thousands to date.

It goes to show that sometimes the best solutions are the simplest.