As manufacturing activity slows, plant managers shift their attention to increasing efficiency in their factories through lean manufacturing methods. Knowing exactly where to begin a lean journey is the first task facing plant managers and improvement teams. The answer is simple: 5S—sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain—program.
5S is critical to the implementation of all other improvement efforts. 5S significantly helps in implementing other lean tools such as quick changeover, total productive maintenance and mistake-proofing, and it helps to sustain improvements.
- Sorting. The goal and process of sorting is organization. The sort process forces people to remove all items not needed for production. It is most difficult for people who are afraid to let go of parts, machines and data that might be necessary in the future, just in case.
However, red-tagging items allows workers to set aside and evaluate items and information in terms of its usefulness and the frequency it is used. The items and information are returned, stored elsewhere, sold, given away or thrown away. Red tagging is best done in one target area at a time and within one or two days. When red tagging is completed, problems and annoyances in the workflow are reduced, communication between workers is improved, product quality is increased and productivity is enhanced.
- Set in order. Set in order organizes a work area for the maximum possible efficiency. Organization and orderliness work best when they are implemented together. Set in order, means arranging needed items so they are easy to use, and labeling them so anyone can find them and put them away.
- Shine. As the word implies, shine means to thoroughly clean everything in the work area. Planning a cleanliness campaign is a five-step process including: cleanliness targets, assignments, methods, tools, and follow-up inspections. The goals are to turn the workplace into a clean, bright place where people enjoy working. Review the first two Ss and find the source of dirt or litter and eliminate it.
At all times, everything must be swept and clean. Shine should become so deeply ingrained as a daily work habit that tools are also kept in top condition and are ready for use at any time.
- Standardize. Once the first three Ss are in place, standardize details is a plan to maintain the continual improvement activities. Standardized cleanup integrates sort, set in order, and shine into a unified whole.
- Sustain. Involve workers in planning how to make the 5S program an on-going way of doing business.
Having clearly-designated tasks completed on a regular basis is the key. Empowering shop floor workers to take control of their daily activities and their work environment is the unifying principle of 5S. By taking an active role in designing and maintaining their workplace, workers take more pride in their work, leading to greater satisfaction and higher productivity. IBI