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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.

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