Another Two-Fer

Well, I've been on the lookout for more of these "collateral benefits", in which an object or action has a byproduct that's as desirable as the primary intent.

Wow, that was not a very well-phrased sentence. I'd better go eat one of those grapes over there, as an incentive to start writing better.

Ah. What I'm trying to elaborate on are what my mom might call "two-fers," or a management consultant would tell you is a "win-win."

I remember one of the first times I ever considered this concept was a few years ago, when my friend Val told me about the new machine they'd installed at the pallet manufacturing facility where she works. The facility processes tons and tons of pallets. (You know pallets, right? Those lightweight wooden stands you see in warehouses, holding loads of cargo off the floor and enabling forklifts to pick them up. Usually about four feet by four feet, about six inches tall? Those things. Sometimes they're called "skids.")

Anyway, every day, they sent out truckloads of pallets to various warehouses and brought in truckloads more. The workers checked them over for cracked wood or loose nails, and repaired any pallets needing repair.

Some of the pallets, naturally, were too far gone to be repaired -- the wood was too splintered, or the structure was too compromised -- and Val's work had to pay for someone to come and haul away what was basically just scrap wood.

*Somebody* had a brilliant idea, though, and I'm not sure if Val told me who it was. They put in a giant shredder/chipper machine, and fed the unusable wood into that instead. Now they had something to do with all those excess pallets, and thus no need to pay for removal, and... (here's the two-fer) giant piles of shredded wood. So they opened a side business selling mulch.

The machine paid for itself within a year.

More tomorrow...

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