Monts de Oca, N., Diaz, L., McMahen, D. et al. 2014. The use of lean management principles to enhance a nonhuman primate environmental enrichment program. American Association for Laboratory Animal Science [AALAS] Meeting Official Program, 580-581. (Abstract #P122).
Sewage back-up and overflows in the rooms of our primate facility initiated an analysis of the factors contributing to the clogging of the drains. An investigation reviewing the materials responsible for the clogging of the drains revealed that the use of paper trays, paper bags, or other nondissolvable materials was the main cause of this problem. These nondissolvable materials were being used as the main delivery devices for novelty food items as part of the nonhuman primate (NHP) environmental enrichment program. Rather than eliminate these essential enrichment items from the program, we sought to improve delivery of food enrichment by implementing the use of an expanded array of delivery devices made from materials that would not clog the drains. We developed a system composed of 6 dissolvable delivery items with 7 fillers, which could be used in different combinations resulting in more than 40 distinct novel food items. As part of the process, we created a visual standard operating procedure, outlining the process for making each individual item, in order to improve the efficiency of training all of our nonhuman primate staff. An additional benefit of this process was that we were able to standardize the nutritional component of our NHP environmental enrichment program while providing novelty to the animals on a consistent basis. In conclusion, the quest to solve a simple drain clogging problem resulted in a transformation and significant positive long term impact on our NHP enrichment program.