As we mentioned in HPG’s last blog, 5S is a 5-step organizational process created in Japan and used by many US companies. Its purpose is to sustain quality improvement while demonstrating respect for people, equipment, and processes.
“I’m a fan of the 5S process because by using these principles daily, we are able to build defect-free and efficient workflows. “ – Don Curtis
Here is a brief summary of each of the 5 steps in the process, by Don Curtis, HPG’s Continual Improvement Manager:
1. Sort Eliminate all unnecessary tools, parts, equipment, supplies, documents, etc. Go through all tools and materials, in the plant and work area. Keep only essential items. Discard those that are out of date.
Placing items into similar categories helps us see when items are missing. Removing unneeded items opens up floor/desk space and eliminates the storage costs. Fewer items in any area makes it easier for people to stay on task.
2. Straighten (Set in Order) There should be a place for everything and everything should be in its place, clearly labeled. Items should be arranged in a manner that promotes efficient workflow. When small inventories of supplies or raw materials must be maintained at hand, each item should be labeled and replenished via clearly understood visual management controls.
Employees should not have to retrieve or repetitively bend to access materials. Each tool, part, supply, piece of equipment, etc. should be kept close to where it will be used. Why: Waste includes any activity that does not increase the value of the product from the customer’s perspective. Moving or storing an item within an operation adds no value. Time is wasted when people must search for items needed to do their jobs or to locate and bring inventories of items to their work stations.
3. Shine Keep the HPG workplace clean, bright, and organized – maintaining cleanliness as part of the daily work – not as an occasional activity. Why: Visual management allows everyone to know when a problem situation exists. If a floor is maintained in a dirty, littered manner, a leaking drop of oil from an important piece of machinery can go unnoticed. Plus, people are happier and more productive when their surroundings are kept in pristine conditions.
4. Standardize Work practices should be consistent and standardized to optimize workflow and avoid confusion. Document controls in a quality management database are frequently part of this process for standardization. Keeping minimum quantities of materials in fixed warehouse locations can quickly assist users in knowing when to restock. Everyone should have a role and know exactly what his or her responsibilities are for adhering to the first 3Ss.
5. Sustain (the discipline) Maintain and review standards. Once all previous steps have been established, they become the new way to operate. Brief daily meetings on each shift are used by many organizations to keep the organization on track – like pit stop for a race car, these meetings have a purpose and a method that enhances performance to accomplish a common goal. Regular management guidance and feedback on performance of 5S disciplines are vital.
5S continual improvement is based on consistency – the key to success in school, in saving for retirement, balancing a checkbook, running a meeting or a family, the military, and vital for a successful business. Simply put, 5S works beautifully – and has set HPG on the path to growing while maintaining integrity.