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Open Access Using the Lean Six Sigma Methodology to Reduce Mouse Cage Sanitation Time for Animal Care and Use Programs

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Although efficient sanitization is a high priority for Animal Care and Use Programs (ACUP), the cage sanitation process for animals used in biomedical research can be labor-intensive. To increase the efficiency of sanitation services provided by ACUP, the current project used the Lean Six Sigma methodology to reduce the time to sanitize mouse cages by implementing countermeasures to reduce causes of waste within this process for the Animal Care Operations (ACO) group at a leading public research university. Lean Six Sigma was selected for use in this project given its goal to make organizations' routine operations flow as smoothly and efficiently as possible and its applicability to biomedical and research settings as discussed in the literature. Through observation of the ACO's existing mouse cage sanitation process and brainstorming sessions with the ACO staff, the existing process was mapped, a baseline measurement of the current process performance was established, the process was analyzed to identify potential causes of waste, and appropriate countermeasures were implemented to improve the process. These countermeasures involved actions specifically targeted at reducing process delays, which included implementing new procedures, clarified schedules, and visual controls. As a result of this project, ACO's average mouse cage sanitation process cycle time was reduced by 35 min, and the time saved was reinvested within the ACO to provide technicians additional time to complete other valuable tasks and thus support animal research endeavors at this university.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Project Management Program, University of Houston, Houston, Texas;, Email: [email protected] 2: Project Management Program, University of Houston, Houston, Texas

Publication date: September 1, 2019

This article was made available online on July 18, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "Using the Lean Six Sigma Methodology to Reduce Mouse Cage Sanitation Time for Animal Care and Use Programs".

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  • The Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (JAALAS) serves as an official communication vehicle for the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). The journal includes a section of refereed articles and a section of AALAS association news. The mission of the refereed section of the journal is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information on animal biology, technology, facility operations, management, and compliance as relevant to the AALAS membership. JAALAS accepts research reports (data-based) or scholarly reports (literature-based), with the caveat that all articles, including solicited manuscripts, must include appropriate references and must undergo peer review.

    Attention Members: To access the full text of the articles, be sure you are logged in to the AALAS website.

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