How 5S Can Improve Your Production Floor And Manufacturing Processes

When you walk around your production floor, at times you are probably dismayed by the level of chaos and disorganization. You may see trash that hasn’t been swept up, leftover material that is piled in corners, and snack wrappers crumpled up and left here and there. It may occur to you that this disorganization is not good for the efficiency of your operation. But you may not focus on the cost to your company in the long run.

Every manufacturing company can benefit from 5S

No matter how large or small your company, as a New Jersey manufacturer, it’s time to do something about that. One approach you might try is 5S—a simple and universal methodology that is used by many large corporations.  5S is a lean tool and fundamental aspect of virtually all manufacturing improvements from just-in-time manufacturing production to total quality management (TQM).

To put it simply, 5S is a workplace organization method that describes how to organize a work space for greater efficiency and effectiveness. It does this in a simple way—by identifying and storing items used, maintaining the items and area regularly, and sustaining the new order.

5S was originally developed in Japan and is used by Toyota and many other companies to organize their factory floors. It uses a list of five words which have been transliterated into English to elicit action. These five words create a process that will help you move from a disorganized production floor to a structure that eliminates waste and can be maintained and upgraded constantly with minimum effort when put in place.

Here are the five key concepts of 5S

  1. Sort: Remove all items not needed for current production.
  2. Set in order: Arrange needed items so they are easy to use. Label them so anyone can find them and put them away.
  3. Shine: Keep everything in order, swept and clean. Inspect tools to see if they need repairs.
  4. Standardize: Sort again and schedule tools and equipment for cleaning.
  5. Sustain: To make sure the entire process is sustained, you will need to create an infrastructure around communicating, auditing, and checklists.

 5S starts with a three-step process

To implement 5S methodology companies typically use a three-step process. First they establish at cross-functional team. Second, the team tours all areas associated with the manufacturing process. Third, the team brainstorms various ideas on how to improve organization and reduce waste. Some teams also use Value Stream Mapping (VSM), a technique discussed in a prior post, to develop a visual construct of the present state of the manufacturing floor. This shows the team how things were done in the past and can be a good departure point for developing a visual construct of the new processes and floor layout.

The mantra of 5S is simple and clear: “A place for everything and everything in its place”

What are the results you can expect for 5S? Reduced waste of human time and energy; reduced waste of excess inventory; and fewer defective products—to name just a few of the results you can expect.

It may take some planning, energy, and time outlay. But the benefits are multiple, even for the smallest manufacturer. The name of this tool—5S—may sound complex, but the core concept is simple, as is its mantra: “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

For more information about NJMEP’s Lean services, click here. To set up a Lean assessment for your organization, call us at 973-998-9801 or contact us by clicking the button below.

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