City of El Paso: Irrigation Repair

Reducing Irrigation Repair Work Order Process Lead Time

The City of El Paso is committed to deliver outstanding services to support a high quality of life to residents, businesses and visitors. One of their strategic goals is to set the standard for sound governance and fiscal management to nurture and promote a healthy and sustainable community.


The Situation

The time involved in completing irrigation work orders was taking too long resulting in high cost.

The time involved in completing irrigation work orders was taking 24 hours and the average cost per work order (in man hours) was $297.36. This was negatively affecting not only the Park & Recreation Department but also the environment because it was reducing the capacity of servicing other affected areas.

The City of El Paso strongly believed that by using the Lean Six Sigma methodology, it was possible to achieve, and most importantly, to sustain significant and positive results.


The Solution

By applying Lean Six Sigma methodology the results were substantial and impressive!

A Pareto analysis showed that 70% of all work orders were related to heads and valves, so the efforts of the project were focused on those repairs.

The top solutions included:

  • Implement the 5S method to standardize the stock vans, corrals and warehouse
  • Establish satellite storage areas to decrease travel time
  • Use a groundskeeper as a “runner” working with the material supervisor
  • Redraw boundaries for all (4) corrals to reduce travel time


Other improvements included process simplification, the generation of standard operation procedures, and the establishment of inventory control points and re-order points for supplies.

The initial goal was to reduce the repair time and consequently the cost per work order by 33%; the ultimate results far exceed the expectations resulting in a reduction of 92%! The time to process an irrigation repair work order was reduced   from 24 hours to only 1.81 hours and the cost per work order decreased from $297.36 to $22.40, accounting for an estimated annual cost avoidance of $78,089 in payroll costs.

This was just the beginning of the continuous improvement journey at the City of El Paso, since Lean Six Sigma can be used across multiple departments.


Over the first 12 months of these improvements being in place results only varied 7% month to month…
author-img - Joel McKnight
Assistant Parks and Recreation Director