Five S, The Beginning

Do you practice 5S at home?

The beauty of 5S is that is simple and can be used everywhere.  In one of my recent 5S implementations, I was not getting the buying from my maintenance crew until I mention examples of 5S at home.  Let’s face it, nobody want to lose their tools or waste time looking for them instead of working on that project that you are so passionate about.  You need a tool, you know you have it but, where it is?

During my lean journey, 5S is one of the tools that I always use at the beginning of the implementation.  This training is very important because physically transform the area very fast, and is so easy to use that employees can learn and practice in a short period of time which helps to build confidence on lean manufacturing.  That confidence also led the employees to try 5S at home.

I heard great stories of how they use 5S on their garages, home offices, and closets around the house.  It is funny to hear how they explain their spouses or partners the plan they have to organize and keep organize those areas.  The challenges they face to make their families understand the why and how to help them to understand our challenges at the plant and become advocates of the program.

If you have some cluttered areas around your house, 5S is the tool you need to get rid of them.  Try it, it’s worth it!  In future posts, I will present ideas that you can use at home.

 

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Five S, Lean Tools, Visual Management

Making Problems Visible

Recently we have an external audit at our plant and while the results were good, they were not as good as expected.  The audit results did not match the excellent team effort and great preparation work done during the whole year.  The auditor managed to see a good amount of non-conformance, most of them were very simple things.

During the staff meetings right after the audit, we reviewed all the observations, some of us were pretty upset by the results.  At the end of the meeting our general manager pointed out the teamwork done and how hard we worked during all last year and the current to make the plant visible which helped the auditor to determine what was out of standard.  Of all people, I failed to notice that our plant is so visible that basically, we made the auditor job easier!

Lesson learned this story is now part of our Five S and Visual Management training.  These programs work, the audit was proof of that.  Visual standards make easier to understand when situations are out of standard.  The next step after detection is to fix the situation, that is where we need to work more.  Daily follow-up is important, training for new employees and why not? Maybe we need to revise the standards and go back to the drawing table after all the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle never ends!

Five S

Did you meet the 5S?

A 5S Program is a group of principles and activities that seek cleaner, organized, free of clog and safety hazard work areas.  The five steps of housekeeping transform the work areas into easy to workspaces because they contain visual instructions that promote the organization and make it easy to recognize when standards are not followed.  The program itself is one of the foundations of Lean Manufacturing.

5S ProcessThe following five steps promote standardization and facilitate continuous improvement:

  1. Sort –  The first step is about sorting all materials and tools between necessary and non-necessary to complete the task or work of that area.
  2. Set in Order – After we decided what we need on the area, on the second step a location and quantity is assigned for each one.  We need to have a place for everything and everything should be returned to its place after being used.
  3. Shine – The third step looks for a thorough cleaning and inspection.  The inspection is the more important part, the objective is to identify any possible source for the dirt and fix it.  Leaks, loose bolts, broken belts, previous quick fixes, and others are identified and fixed while cleaning.
  4. Standardize – During the fourth step, managers and supervisors need to create rules, procedures, and standards to ensure we keep doing the first three steps constantly.  Within those checklists and procedures, we need to establish what is needed, how is done, who is responsible and how often.  Rules to replenish materials, the maximum amount of work in process (WIP) is also determined on this step.
  5. Sustain – The last S is the most difficult one because involves discipline.  Managers and supervisors need to be persistent.  Employees participation is vital, without their ideas, help, and participation through every step of the way; the success of this program won’t be possible.

5S Events are one of my favorite Lean events because the steps are easy to follow and the program can be used anywhere, including home.  This program is clearly focused on the employees and their working conditions and as soon as they start working with it, they understand that.

 

Five S, Lean Trainings

How to do a 5S Training?

Being 5S the foundation for Lean Manufacturing, it is really important to design good training that captures employees attention and motivate them to learn and support the program.  After a lot of trial and error, I came up with two different ways to do this training.  Which one I choose, depending on how much time we want to dedicate for training, the target area and the employee’s availability.

The Two Steps Training takes two days, the first day is for all the theory plus the first S, including the kick off of the Red Tag Campaign.  Between both training days usually, we have one to two weeks that use to decide what to do with all the stuff that ends up on the Red Tag Area.  The second day is to complete the next four S.  We dedicate a good amount of time to select the permanent location for all the equipment, tools and materials needed in the target area.  The whole group works moving things around, labeling, cleaning, and painting.  We can not set standards too fast, we always have a one-hour session about two weeks after the second training day to go over the procedures and standards established to check the status.  Are they working?  Do we need to change something?  Can we make everything official?

The Step by Step training takes between four to five days but is really through because literally take the employees by the hand and walk them through the whole process.

I mostly use Two Steps Training for small areas that are easy to tackle.  Step by step is my favorite by far, although it is slower it is a complete learning experience.  This one is really good when you want to develop employees and give them nice tools to empower them to take their own decisions. Also, we have plenty of time to practice Lean Thinking.

How do you do your 5S training?  Which way proves more successful for you?

Five S

Never underestimate the power of a clean and organize workplace

From Lean Manufacturing, the one thing that sticks to me since the very first book that I read was the Five S Program.  I found fascinating how simple it was and make me realize that for years I underestimate the power of a clean and organize the workplace.  My former boss put on my hands the book Five Pillars of the Visual Workplace from Hiroyuki Hirano.   That book was my starting point, I really had no idea of what to do or how to implement the 5 S.  It was pretty clear for all of us that we need to do something different and that we needed soon.

I read the whole book and based on that information I created a training.  I also created a quick questionnaire to ask the employees how they felt about their work and the workplace; I wanted to know how they felt with the current status with the hope that their discomfort and/or dislikes will help me to sell an idea that would actually help them and not only the company.

The results of the poll confirm that the top three concerns of the employees were: safety, difficulty to get the materials and the general cleanliness of the area.  With the help of the human resources team, we put together a training schedule that included all the employees from all the departments.  I took me about a week to have about 90% of the employees trained but at the end, everybody was so interested in the program that it was pretty easy to sell the idea of doing a Red Tag campaign followed by a Big 5S Event.

With the event, we impacted several areas of the plant at the same time: production lines, some offices, maintenance shop, and the break room.  The same area employees completed all the work.  We stop the plant for two days to have the first three S’s of the program completed: Sort, Set in Order and Shine.  After the event, we work for some time on the standardization and the program to ensure housekeeping and organization sustainability.

A couple of months after the implementation we did another survey, the same questions from the first time brought a totally different outcome.  The employee’s attitude changed, the participation in training increased and the number of suggestions and ideas about how to improve the process.  The most amazing part was that the employees itself maintained the program alive and that happened just because it was beneficial for them.  Managers and supervisors were so thrilled by the results that work hard to keep the discipline.  They did their part doing audits and keeping a schedule for special Red Tags events as well as retraining whenever things got a little sloppy.

That was my first experience with a 5S implementation; it was also my very first learned lesson:  never underestimate the power of a clean and organized workplace!