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Seiri (aka. Sort)

March 28, 2010

There is a new show on TV last week that I watched called “Hoarders”.  For those of you that have not seen it, just imagine people living in their homes and not being able to throw anything away.  We’re not talking about a few things here, but mounds and mounds of obsolete items that have not been used for weeks, months, or even years (food included).  It is so bad that they cannot walk from one end of their living room to the other.  Would you believe that there is a percentage of the American population that lives this way.  I can think of no better example to illustrate the first step of 5S, which is Seiri (aka. Sort)

Although not as extreme, we operate every day like this in our workplace also.  We fail to ask ourselves the question of whether an item is necessary or unnecessary.  All sorts of items are found in the workplace that we no longer use or that we will only use in the distant future.  In the workplace, we find unused machines, jigs, tools, dies, rejected parts, WIP, raw material, supplies, parts, shelves, containers, desks, workbenches, files of documents, carts, racks, pallets, and many other items.  A rule of thumb to use is to discard anything that has not been used for 30 days or more.

Red tagging is a way of deciding what is necessary and what is not necessary.  Going through the workplace with a Kaizen or a 5S team, red tags  are placed items believed to be unnecessary.  By the end of the excercise you may find that the entire area is covered in red tags.   A red tag area may be formed to move these tagged items into designated area for further review on whether the items should be refurbished, reallocated, sold, simply discarded. 

Questions that often arise after a red tag exercise are;

  1. “How much money is tied up in the red tag area?”
  2. “What was the original reason we bought this equipment, or fabricated this tool if it is not being used anymore?”. 
  3. “Why did we make these parts in the first place?” 

Management should get together after such an event to have a good look at the red tag items and start making kaizens to correct the system that made the wast possible.  This is an excellent excercise if you are trying to free up plant floor space.  The next step is determine what is the correct amount of items needed at the work place, or the gemba.  We will talk about this in Seiton (Straighten).

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