Archive for April, 2010


Seiso (aka. Scrub)

April 30, 2010

I visited a manufacturing facility today.  Everything I have talked about in my previous blogs regarding the need for 5S to improve productivity could not be further from the truth.  During my walk around the shop floor with the management, I commented on the need to for better housekeeping.  More importantly, the need for 5S.  One of the questions I asked the owner was “How much time do your employees spend looking for things throughout the day?”  The owner did not realize that the time spent searching for items was unproductive to his productivity and that it was costing him gains on his profit margins.

The third of the 5S’ is Seiso (aka. Scrub).  Once we have sorted and set-in order items we use in the workplace, the next step is to clean the workplace.  Now most people think that scrubbing means painting and forgetting about it.  But the real purpose of scrubbing is to make the equipment or item to look like new.  Equipment that is clean runs better and lasts longer between breakdowns.  Equipment that is clean and made to look like new makes it easier to identify when something goes wrong.  If an oil leak, water leak, air leak, etc. occurs, it makes it that much more easier to spot the issue.  Imagine a 1200T press covered in oil because it has never been cleaned.  When an oil leak on that press occurs, how will the operator be able to identify the oil leak?  My personal preference is to have equipment painted white, including floors (where it’s possible).  This makes it easy for the employees to identify issue with the equipment.  Oil leaks on a white floor also makes it easier to identify potential equipment issues.  As with each of the 5s’, Seiso must be maintained every day and every shift.


Seiton (aka. Straighten)

April 27, 2010

I took a time out this past week to actually look at my office space and the clutter surrounding it.  My last blog on “Sorting” convinced me that I needed to walk the talk before I continued talking about the remaining elements of 5S.  De-cluttering and trashing items that I definitely did not need has resulted in a much more organized space for me to work.  Now on with the 2nd step of 5S.

Once we have sorted what is needed in our work space, we are left with the tools that we need to perform our work on a continuous basis.  The trick with Seiton is that the items that we need to perform our daily tasks must be close by, and preferably within arm’s reach.  Having to walk or take extra steps to reach a tool or item is still considered waste, even though the item is easily found and in an organized manner.  This minimizes search times and efforts, resulting in increased productivity.

You’ve heard the old saying, “a place for everything, and everything in its place”.  If you follow this phrase and take it to heart, it will help you organize and label the tools or items required at the workstation.  Each items must have;

  1. a designated address (location)
  2. a designated name
  3. a designated quantity

I recently worked in a press shop where the changeover times were almost 2 hours long.  Breaking down the job, we found that the forklift drivers spent close to 40 minutes searching for the tool required to go into the press for the next run.  The operators sat idle while this search was going on.  Think of all the parts that could have been produced in those 40 minutes if the tool could be easily found.  We ended up labelling shelves for the tools with identifiers (e.g. A-1, A-2…….A-n, B-1, B-2…….Bn, etc.).  We even labelled the tools that sat on these shelves with identifiers that showed which shelf the  tool belonged to, and the press the tool always ran in.  We went one step further identifying how many strokes per minute (SPM) each tool should be set at.  This minimized the searching time for the fork lift driver getting the tool, and the setup time for the operators at the press.

The same can be done for raw material, purchased components, work-in-process, and finished goods.  Having a dedicated home location on the floor for every part number minimizes searching time and creates a more organized workplace.  Going one step further by identifying the maximum quantity allowed in each work space restricts the amount of clutter allowed to gather in that home location.  It is also a prerequisite for laying the foundation for a pull system (kanban system).

Look around your workspace and see how it can best be organized with a home location.


Leadership Strategies for Motivating Employees

April 5, 2010
  1. Focus on people, not numbers.  An organization’s failure or success is determined by the moods, innovation, energy, thoughts, and behaviors of the people who work there.
  2. Model good behavior.  Leaders set the tone for how employees respond to almost every situation.  They can inspire or they can extinguish.
  3. Practice positive leadership.  Positive leadership means remaining purposeful in the face of adversity.
  4. Fill the void.  As a leader, you must meet with your employees and continually communicate, communicate, communicate.
  5. Tell energy vampires, “Its time to get on the bus of off the bus”.  No matter how many pep talks you give or good behaviors you model, your efforts won’t go far unless you are on the same page.
  6. Forbid complaining………all complaining.  Let your employees know that they are not allowed to complain unless they offer solutions.
  7. Teach your people to be heroes, not victims.  Both heroes and victims get knocked down.  The distinction between the two groups lies in the fact that heroes get back up while victims give up.
  8. Focus on the small wins.  Always place your attention on those little, ordinary, unspectacular “wins” that add up to big successes.
  9. Make sure you have sharks in your key positions.  Look at your team and figure out which people display the characteristics of driven, go-get-’em, nice sharks.  Sharks choose to swim ahead, believing that the best is yet to come.