5S Your Way To Efficiency and Profitability

5S Your Way To Efficiency and Profitability

 
We organize and clean at home. Doing the same at our manufacturing facilities and offices will increase both efficiency and our bottom line. This article discusses how manufacturing organizations can utilize the 5S methodology to establish the strong foundation of discipline needed to increase efficiency and profitability.
 

Variation Means Waste

 
Variation is everywhere. Variation manifests itself in our daily lives---getting a flat tire on our way to work or losing our electricity due to a power outage. And where we find variation, we find waste. Manufacturers encounter variation constantly.
 

 

Customers’ needs constantly change as their markets change. Customers want new products made from new materials or they improve existing products. Simultaneously, new specifications and tighter tolerances are being demanded. Schedules change due to revised delivery needs. Consequently, manufacturers must remain flexible, adapt to their changing marketplaces, and continue to combat variation and waste to survive.
 
As we attempt to uncover and remove the sources of variation, we soon discover our physical work place itself can be one of the largest contributors to variation and waste. Unmarked storage locations, missing tools, left over tools from previous jobs, disorganized desk drawers, broken machines taking up room, and general dirt are a few examples of things that get in our way and cause wasted time. 5S is a methodology to combat these conditions in any manufacturing or office environment as it establishes a strong foundation of discipline needed to sustain Lean improvements.
 
The 5S terms are of Japanese origin (seiri, seiton, seisō, seiketsu, and shitsuke), but the concept of 5S came from methods that originated in the United States (more on this in Part 2 of this series). Mr. Hiroyuki Hirano offers a simple, yet accurate analogy about 5S. Mr. Hirano, a Japanese consultant, compares 5S with giving our work places a shower---“we personally want to be clean, so wouldn’t our work places?” If our work places could answer, no doubt they would agree!
 
The 5S’s and their classic definitions are:
•Sort: (Organization) Classifying and organizing all items in each work area into two categories - needed and not needed.
•Set in Order: (Orderliness) Minimizing the searching for and retrieving of items necessary at each work place.
•Shine: (Cleanliness) Cleaning the entire work place, including walls, windows, floors, desks, and equipment.
•Standardize: (Standardized cleanup) Preventing dirt in the first place, establishing and maintaining expected standards.
•Sustain: (Discipline) Adhering to the rules and agreed-upon standards in the work place.
 
Although we refer to 5S’s, the first three, Organization (Sort) and Orderliness (Set in Order), followed by Cleanliness (Shine), form 5S’s key elements. Note, these stages are activities meant to be continual, not things that someone does once and stops. The 5S’s offer the discipline required to apply stringent standards, enabling organizations to remain flexible enough to adapt their standards as conditions warrant. Safety is sometimes included as a sixth S. However safety considerations must be intertwined within all of the steps in a 5S initiative.
 
How can we expect our machine operators or people in clerical offices to maintain their focus on achieving customer expectations when surrounded by dirt and clutter? The answer is we cannot. However, dirt and clutter describe the condition of many manufacturing shop floors and office environments. Change this paradigm. People feel better about themselves and their employers if their surroundings are clean and more organized.