Good points. Our company is implementing various lean practices through a series of Kaizen events and 5S is a part of the whole package. As visually appealing as 5S is, it really needs to be part of an overall efficency program, otherwise it is just another "lipstick on a pig" scenario.
This is an excellent post. The 5S methodology is one most manufacturers desperately need relative to inventory control and material flow. I am a consulting engineer and you would not believe what I have seen relative to "house-keeping". I did a quick job for a company where I'm sure every principal was a "hoarder". Nothing was thrown away. I heard time and time again "we might need that some day so we keep it". Another company had issues with material flow vs. off-quality components and assemblies. This created a situation in which unusable components could get back into WIP status. There were many time I thought about dropping by after work to the plant manager's house to see if he lived in the same conditions he allowed on the plant floor. 5S works but you absolutely need management by-in to sustain the effort and realize the rewards.
As with any tool, users need to have a full understanding of its function and how to use it properly. 5-S is a great tool for keeping everything clean and organized, and really assists in making sure you have everything you need and readily available to perform your activities.
As a Quality Manager, I managed using 5-S throughout the company, including offices, desks, and every workstation. Every area was audited twice each month, and 5-S audit report trend charts had to be posted in every workarea. This included the President's office and desk. It initially appeared to be a stupid time consuming effort, but we all soon realized that everyone was able to work more efficient and effective.
I think it is like we have already agreed Tim...I worked for a company that decided to embrace QIT (Quality Improvement Training). We were all put on diverse cross-departmental teams and we had to go through a training session that culminated with each team giving a presentation on some aspect of QIT. The end result was QIT audits with nervous employees who had to quote the QIT slogan on demand...not much else really changed. Implementation should have been drastically different in order to take advantages of the priniciples that were presented in the training.
If done fully, 5S can be a very useful tool in the manufacturing environment. You do have some management that just does not understand the full picture when utilizing 5S. A previous American company that I worked had an entire Business System based on the Toyota Production System. When we were all trained on the basis of 5S and its driving principles, we said that this is great. Any tool that we can use to help our organization is good. However the next day, our VP came out and said that the entire facility was to be at least 2S in one month as his opionion was that we only needed to organize our struff and that we did not have time for employees to clean. This really did not make sense. Unless you get to the Sustain portion of the program, you really have not accomplished much.
I can't wait for Scott Adams to let the poiny-haired-boss loose on this one.
Many years ago my organization decided to embrace TQM. A couple of consultants got some nice cheques, we got some boring lectures stating the obvious, a few placards went up on the notice board, and the only difference in the end was that we learned the value of answering the phones with, "Computer division, how can we help?" instead of "Hello"?.
If you can't do the job with your own common sense, all these buzz-words won't make a difference.
Seems to me 5S is building on a basic idea that has been a struggle in the work place since work began - The struggle for "A place for everything, and everything in its place" is a worthy one. I cannot count how much time I have lost when I go to start a project, and I can't find the basic tools that I need for my task because the person who borrowed them last did not return them or in a communal work area tools and parts are left haphazardly laying around. Using visuals is also helpful for communication - most people are at least partially visual learners and that would be a good method for being understandable to everyone. I agree with Dave though - the measure of its success would all be in the actual implementation.
Totally agree. 5S is a great tool that helps an organization become efficient. However, I've also seen where emphasis was just placed on 'eye candy' and the underlying problems were not addressed. With all of these types of tools it is important to remember to make the 'system' work for you (rather than you work for the 'system').
Just like many of the other things you mention (just in time production, cellular manufacturing, total quality management, six sigma, etc.), 5S can be a great thing if it's done right, or it can be just another management buzzword-of-the-month.
I've been in plants where a lot of effort was expended on making sure that boxes and pallets were sitting straight and flush with one another, while serious problems were not addressed. This has given me a somewhat jaded view of 5S.
That being said, a well-organized physical environment is essential to a well-functioning manufacturing process.
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