1. Registration: read about the donation process and eligibility requirement.
2. Health History and Mini Physical: personal health history questions, temperature, blood pressure, etc.
3. Donation: Approximately 1 pint of blood is drawn from your arm
4. Refreshments: Spend a few minutes eating sweets and drinking fluids
Bottleneck and Capacity Management: With a quick glance to the donation process area, I saw six beds. If the actual donation time takes an average of ten minutes, then the capacity of the donation process is 6 beds * 60 minutes in an hour divided by 10 minutes per donation = 36 donations per hour assuming the area is properly staffed. The health history/ mini physical area also has enough space for 6 donors being service at one time and a 10 minutes average time for this process is probably reasonable. However, there was only 1 dedicated employee in this area restricting the capacity down to 6 donations per hour.
Labor Scheduling & Capacity Planning: At 1:30 employees were coming and going taking lunch breaks. I suspect that the reason there was only 1 staff member working the health history / mini physical step was because someone was on break. Labor scheduling is essentially matching system capacity with expected demand. In the case of a blood drive, the expected demand could be managed by allowing for more appointments during fully staffed times and less appointments during periods of breaks (e.g., lunch time); however, it appeared that blood drive volunteers were asked to find the same number of donors for each time period, e.g., for each half hour block find 4 donors. Perhaps the actual capacity during periods of full staff is higher than what they ask for and much lower during lunch times. This means that donors in the morning and late afternoons will be serviced very fast (maybe 30 to 40 minutes) while the donors during the lunch hours can expect long queues and much longer waits (like mine: 2 hours). The average wait may indeed be 1 hour but the variability in what is experienced by donors varies widely. Perhaps the American Red Cross tries to determine its daily capacity and asks blood drive volunteers to fill this uniformly throughout the day; however, labor scheduling forces the capacity to fluctuate throughout the day and reservations should be scheduled to match the capacity fluctuations.
What is the goal?
How can the principles of operations management improve donor loyalty?
Where was the bottleneck in my process? Where should it have been if donations where to me maximized?
What could the American Red Cross do to manage their appointment system better? How could they handle walk-ins?