According to experts in storage, organization, and material-handling solutions at Akron, OH-based Akro-Mils (akro-mils.com), organizations that invest in a 5S process increase productivity, create higher-quality products, and lower operating costs through simple waste removal, visual identification, and efficient use of space. By incorporating a 5S Lean methodology, they note, facilities can:
• improve workflow and productivity
• develop a cleaner, more efficient environment
• create extra workspace
• increase safety
• reduce wasted time and effort
• boost worker morale
• ensure improvements remain intact.
A recent Akro-Mils blog post provided the following refresher on steps in the 5S process, along with some ways this Lean approach can lead to improved workplace efficiency.
— Jane Alexander, Managing Editor
The first step in the 5S Lean methodology is eliminating items that are not needed for the current workflow. This step is crucial to reducing clutter, eliminating outdated or expired materials and supplies, and freeing up valuable real estate in your workspace. A key decision point in this step is determining which items stay and which items go. Unnecessary items are moved out of the workspace and either immediately disposed of or stored offsite and dealt with later.
2. Set in Order.
Frequently used workstation materials and tools should be arranged so that all needed items are readily accessible and easy to find. In this step, the workspace is reorganized and redefined for the most efficient use of space. All tools and supplies are labeled and organized, and a system is implemented to make sure they are always returned to their proper locations.
When first implementing a 5S Lean process, all work areas receive a thorough cleaning and inspection. A formal cleaning and maintenance schedule is then developed to prevent dirt from accumulating and keep equipment in proper working condition.
Benchmarking and evaluation tactics should be used in your 5S Lean process to maintain a consistent approach for carrying out tasks and procedures. For example, standardizing the storage of supplies through color-coding is an effective way to provide helpful, easily recognizable visual indicators throughout an entire facility.
The last step is to continue maintaining efficient workflow and productivity with your 5S Lean system. The best way to do that is through education and empowerment of those using the system. Communicating the benefits of an ongoing 5S process will help ensure personnel’s continued adherence to it and, just as important, that there is no falling back into bad habits. Equipping workers with a well-designed 5S checklist does more than merely support the following of those procedures. It’s an effective way to create accountability and keep this valuable process going strong. MT
For more information on 5S and other workplace topics, and to download a copy of the Akro-Mils 5S Procedure Checklist, visit akro-mils.com.