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.

 

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Lean Trainings, The Beginning

Intimidated by the Lean Jargon?

One thing about Lean Manufacturing that scares many people is the slang.  Some people are curious about what those words mean, others are sarcastic about why we need to use Japanese words and others are just scared.  I have to admit that the first time I read a book about Lean was confused. I was intimidated for a few seconds: gemba, gembutsu, kaizen, kanban, jidoka, heijunka, and others.

Regardless that first shock, I decided to embrace the words and although I am still confused sometimes with those that I barely used, there are a lot more that I used very often.  One of those that I used every day is gemba.  Before the times on which the management team decided to learn more and practice lean; I was the only one who used that word.  I remember one time on which our IT manager come to help me with some technical problems with my email and he was the word gemba on my calendar and was so curious about the meaning that he had to ask.

Lean does not use only Japanese words, there are a lot more of English terms and acronyms that sometimes are not easy to follow or the meaning is different to what we know:  TPM, value-added, JIT, PDCA, pull system, visual management, 5S, A3, waste.

In 2012, the Oregon Department of Administrative Services (DAS) started to work towards maximizing its value to customer agencies and the people of Oregon.  They implemented an entrepreneurial management business model and using tools that contribute to continuous improvement. Those tools included the use of lean manufacturing principles.  DAS employees started to systematically eliminate waste, improve quality, and increase customer satisfaction.  They publish their transformation glossary, which I found very useful.

Get over the words, with the time you will get used to them and more than that, you will start using them without problems.  The people around you will get used to them as well, although I have to tell you, not without give you weird looks first.

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!