Archive for the ‘5S’ Category


Seiketsu (aka. Standardize)

May 14, 2010

I was in an organization last week talking to an Operations Manager about the productivity of the work force in the facility.  The Operations Manager told me that his location was one of the poorer performing locations with respect to labour utilization.  After touring the shop floor, I could not stop thinking of how productive the shop floor could be if it had a 5S program in place.  Any company wanting to implement a lean manufacturing program needs to start with 5S as its foundation.

The fourth principle of 5S  is “Seiketsu (aka. Standardize)”.  A perfect way to explain this principle of standardization is to picture yourself  on trip to your local Home Depot.  When we walk into Home Depot, every department is identified through an effective visual factory program.  Each aisle, each department, each checkout is clearly identified.  The signs look the same (standardization).  Now imagine walking into any Home Depot store.  They look exactly the same.  You expect this standardization when shopping at a hardware store, grocery store, fast food restaurant, etc.  It should be no different in our workplace. 

Once the workplace has been sorted, simplified and scrubbed clean, standardization needs to happen to ensure consistency in the work place among the different workers on the same shift and among the other shifts.  Standardization ensures that variation is minimized.  Minimized process variation ensures good quality throughout the process with minimal defects.  Once these standards are in place within a production line, they can be deployed to other production lines among different shifts. 

Seiketsu also means keeping one’s person clean, by such means as wearing proper working clothes, safety glasses, gloves and shoes, as well as maintaining a clean, healthy, working environment.  Another interpretation of “seiketsu” is continuing to work on the first three of the 5S’,seiri, seiton,  and seiso continually and every day.  As I mentioned before, 5S is not and cannot be a one time event.  It cannot be a blitz.  Blitzes are short-term and last no more than a few days, before the workplace goes back to the way it looked before.  Blitzes are performed when a VIP or a customer visits for a one time event.  Seiketsu or Standardization means that the workplace is kept clean and tidy on a continuous basis, and ready for any VIP or customer to visit without any advanced notice.


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.


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).


The 5S Steps of Housekeeping

March 26, 2010

Standardization, 5S (housekeeping) and muda elimination are the pillars of gemba kaizen in the common-sense, low-cost approach to improvement.  Kaizens at any company – whether it be manufacturing or a service industry should start with these three activities: standardization, 5S, and muda elimination.  I have been around manufacturing for over 20 years now, and I can honestly say these three activities when focused and done right leads to productivity improvements. 

I have seen many people do 5S for all the wrong reasons.  I have seen it done in a weekend because a VIP, upper management, or even the customer was coming into the plant and management wanted to show the shop floor that we practiced 5S.  I have seen groups of managers stay late into the night implementing 5S as the production workers performed their duties nearby.  I have seen blitz over blitz over 5S blitz only to have the shop floor go back to its messy old habits.  Putting it simply, I have seen 5S implemented for all the wrong reasons by many who claim to be experts in 5S.  The point that many of these so-called 5S experts are missing is that 5S has no end point or finish line.  Like many of the tools in the lean manufacturing tool box, it is a never-ending approach to continuously improve the process.  so don’t look for it to be done in a day, a week, a month or a year.

The five steps of housekeeping with their Japanese names are;

  1. Seiri: distinguish between necessary and unnecessary items in gemba and discard later
  2. Seiton: Arrange all items remaining after seiri in an orderly manner
  3. Seiso: keep machines and working environments clean
  4. Seiketsu: extend the concept of cleanliness to oneself and continuously practice the above three steps
  5. Shitsuke: build self-discipline and make a habit of engaging in 5S by establishing standards

As was done with many Japanese terms introduced into Western culture, we developed english equivalents as follows;

  1. Sort: separate what is unnecessary and eliminate it (red tagging)
  2. Straighten: put essential things in order so that they can be easily accessed
  3. Scrub: clean everything (tools & workplaces) removing stains, spots, debris, and eliminating sources of dirt
  4. Systemize: make cleaning and checking a routine process
  5. Standardize: standardize the previous four steps to make the process one that never ends and can be improved upon

There are also the 5C, which are;

  1. Clear-out: determine what is necessary and unnecessary and dispose of the latter
  2. Configure: provide a convenient, safe, and orderly place for everything and keep it there
  3. Clean & check: monitor and restore the condition of working areas during cleaning
  4. Conform: set the standard, train and maintain
  5. Custom and practice: Develop the habit of routine maintenance and strive for further improvement

In my next blog we will take a detailed look a the five steps of 5S.