5S – A Simple & Proven Productivity Success
Posted on February 5, 2014 in 5S
Let’s face it, with stiff market competition companies are struggling to make ends meet. Some companies beat the odds & emerged stronger, by looking into & understand their internal operational factors in order to decide its most effective way for productivity improvement. Now if your company ever faced with the symptoms below;
- Untidy and congested work areas
- Excessive motions or time needed to find tools, materials, parts, accessories & documents
- Painstakingly searching for tools, parts, materials & documents
- Complaint of tripping hazard
then look no further - 5S is the proven solution for theseis.
Many companies mistakenly view 5S only as housekeeping. It is more than that. 5S is a systematic method to organize, order, clean, and standardize a workplace - and to keep it that way. Let’s briefly revisit what are 5S’s:
- Sort (Seiri) – Sorting through the needed from the unneeded items
- Set-In-Order (Seiton) – Place needed items in its place, with the help of visual management
- Shine (Seiso) – Thorough cleaning for inspection & repair
- Standardize (Seiketsu) – Develop common operating standards to maintain the first 3S condition
- Sustain (Shitsuke) – Hold the gains & effort for improvement
In Neville Clarke, we have embedded 5S as a core module in our Operational Excellence (e.g. Lean Sigma) & WSQ Generic Manufacturing Skills’ training program. One Operation Manager in an Oil & Gas manufacturing company upon completing the Lean Sigma Black Belt program decided to implement 5S in his company operation. The company has been experiencing a very low inventory turns. Upon investigation at the warehouse, it was discovered that the warehouse has a haphazard material movement. He embarked on a Black Belt project & in a nutshell, he implemented the 5S activities below to improve the condition:
- Sort – Removed old cluttered inventory items from the storage shelves using the red-tagging method
- Set-In-Order – Carefully re-label the shelves& place demarcation line for ease of forklifts movement
- Shine – Resurface the warehouse floor with easy to clean epoxy material & repair some broken shelves
- Standardize – Document the earlier 3S method in searching, material storage & cleaning
- Sustain – Organised a shiftly 10 minutes 5S event & carry out a monthly audit at respective process area
After this project initiative he discovered that his workers have started to like to work in new well-organised, safe & clean environment. Best part is, the flow of material movement in the warehouse has improved – inventory turn has doubled.
Since its inception by the Japanese in the 70s the structured approach of 5S has become the main pillar in many continuous improvement programs such as Lean Manufacturing, Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), Total Quality Management (TQM) & many more. The Japanese has adopted the 5S concept so well that it has been ingrained not just in their work culture but also their lifestyle habit. So much so that patrons will only visit food establishments with a well kept toilet (they use this as a benchmark) & house chores are done without the need of a maid helper (even if you carry a high post & well-off!).