5S is a popular and commonly-used tool in Lean manufacturing, and is used for optimization of workplace conditions. Often, 5S is used as a key building block within many lean continuous improvement efforts. This is because the tool not only offers a solid base on which improvements can be established, but also gets workers from within the designated area actively involved in improvement initiatives. Commonly, 5S events run for 3 – 5 days.
Preparation for Your 5S Event
Running this type of event is fairly simple and, with a bit of preparation, a 5S event can offer some pretty impressive results. What’s more it is also great for team building and morale. Some of the things you should consider before you begin include:
- Which part or aspect of the business needs 5S? Select the department that will not only benefit the most, but will also create a buzz within the company. This should be the model cell area, where other workers can visit to be inspired.
- Make sure that you have enough time, supplies and resources (including people) available for the event.
- Disseminate communication that will let everyone know what 5S is. One way is to give a presentation to the team explaining what the tool is and the objectives of the exercise. Before and after photos work the best for communicating successes.
- Consider what storage solutions you may require after cleaning up the clutter.
After considering the points above, you are ready to kick off your Kaizen 5S event!
Start off by setting up criteria to distinguish between any workplace items that are necessary and those which are not needed. This type of sorting eliminates clutter and ensures that an untidy workplace does not affect efficiency. You may then store necessary items where they can be accessed easily for use. This step will result in a reduction in floor space needed for that area.
The next step of the 5S event is to ensure that items are arranged in a manner that makes them easy to find and retrieve. The necessary items could be further delineated by those needed often, items needed occasionally, and those rarely needed. Placement of the items necessary for work should be according to these three categories, with those needed often being the easiest to reach. If you don’t use something very often, move it far away or into long-term storage. This step will result in reduced time and greater productivity.
The third of the 5S is focused on cleaning the workplace. The team can get down to scrubbing the work areas thoroughly to remove any stains or dirt. It is also important to note that another aim of 5S is to improve safety conditions, so it helps to look for areas that may require remarking or a coat of paint. If your workplace was already relatively neat and clean, this should not take long. This step is intended to make the workplace look nice, generate excitement in the team, and establish a new habit of keeping things clean.
Running a 5S event can be quite a lot of fun and very rewarding – clearing cluttered workplaces and turning the work environment into one that every worker is proud of. However, if not maintained, the gains from the 5S event will be short-lived. Through standardization, the best ideas from the workers are compared and agreed upon. They are shared across departments, value streams and locations. Signs, labels, colors, procedures and markings are made consistent and spread across the organization, so there is less confusion.
Finally, you should make sure that there are some members of the senior leadership that will take responsibility for the continuing maintenance and success of the 5S initiative. This sense of ownership should include having 5S entrenched within daily management systems and reminders to ensure self-auditing of the various departments, to ensure that employees maintain the new systems they developed. Undoubtedly, the most difficult part of running a 5S event is ensuring that people do not slip back into their old habits once it is over. In addition, communications and procedures are established to set up the 5S phases as a continuous and sustainable part of the company culture. All you need to remember is to keep the 5S maintenance principles as simple and easy to follow as possible.
5S events are an excellent way to ensure that work spaces remain organized and clutter-free. As a bonus, the results of this event are immediate and apparent, something that will build excitement among the team and encourage them to carry out further improvements. When carried out correctly (improved daily by those that do the work), these improvements will become engrained in the minds of the workers and become company culture.