From the Japanese word Seiton we get the next part in the 5S System, the straighten step. Once you have completed the sort step, the workplace should be free from clutter and unnecessary items. Now it is time to straighten everything up and organize it. The goal is to put everything in its place and organize each workstation for maximum efficiency and productivity.
Everything Has a Place
The mantra for the straighten step in the 5S System is “There should be a place for everything and everything should be in its place”. Everything from the work being done to the tools and parts needed to do the work has a designated place and this is the only place it should go.
In the Kaizen philosophy Muda refers to waste, where the waste is any activity that does not add value. By having a designated area for everything you will cut waste and improve productivity. Have you ever wasted time looking for something? The 5S System will end this.
Organize The Workstations
To prepare for the 5S System straighten step you need go to Gemba. Gemba is the place where the work is done. This is best done by performing daily Gemba walks. Go to each workstation and watch the employees as they work. Take note of wasted movements because something is out of reach or far away from the employee. Time spent walking to get regularly used parts or supplies is waste, Muda and during the straighten step you want to eliminate wasted motion which is lost productivity.
Use the 5S System straighten step will cut waste by putting regularly used parts, tools or supplies near where the work is done. If several workstations use the same thing keep the supply in a central location to all. Remember wasted movement is lost productivity.
Now that the workplace was cleared of clutter and unnecessary items during the sort phase, you should limit the amount of work in progress that is allowed at each workstation. Do not allow work to be done or work completed to be stacked around the workstation.
The only items that should be in the workstation is the work in progress and the tools and supplies needed to do the work. When work is completed it should be removed before new work is brought in.
In some instances reorganizing or moving a workstation to create a more efficient workflow may be needed. If the work is done in steps at different workstations then put them next to each other in the order they are done. This will improve the workflow and increase productivity.
It is said the sixth step in a 5S System is safety. During the straighten phase safety should be addressed. Anything that is an obvious safety hazard should have been removed in the sort phase. When you organize the workplace do so in a way that increases safety and reduces hazards. Address any OSHA or other regulations as well.
The straighten phase is also about increasing employee morale. An unorganized workplace that is hard to work in decreases morale. If an employee is constantly going to get something needed to do the work or the work space design impedes the employee from doing their best it will decrease their morale. A clean, well-organized workplace where the employee knows where everything is and works places are designed for maximum workflow and productivity will raise employee morale.
An important part of the 5S System straighten step is proper organization. All areas should be broken down into sections and clearly labeled. Each aisle of a warehouse and every workstation should have a sign or flag visible indicating what section it is such as A-1, A-2, etc and what the workstation is for. Each wall should be labeled every set number of feet such as wall section B-1, B-2, etc.
By organizing the workplace into designated sections you can create a workplace map and a location log to show where a particular item or workstation is located. For instance log that “blue widgets” are located in Aisle 1, Section 3 or A-3. The aisle where blue widgets are stored should be clearly labeled as Aisle 1 and the section clearly labeled as Section 3. This will also help you should you need to reorganize work spaces for maximum workflow and efficiency.
In the location that the “blue widgets” are stored you should have a large label with a description of the item, a part number or other designation number and a bar code for that number. You should include a bar code label for the location “A-3” and for the part number or other designator for what is stored there. This will help you in taking inventory. When you inventory you scan the location bar code, and then the part number bar code, then enter the quantity stored there. Sectional organization is simple and efficient in many ways.
To designate that everything has a place you should label, paint, tape off or otherwise mark where everything should go. For example paint lines and label the floor where a pallet of work to be done is located. Outline the location of a tool on a peg board so you know where it goes and it will be clear if it is missing.
If a pallet for scrap cardboard is located on the floor at wall section B-3 the wall should be labeled “B-3” and the location of the pallet should be outlined on the floor and labeled “Scrap Cardboard”. Everything should be outlined or labeled to make it clear what goes where and make it easy to spot when something is out-of-place.
The straighten step is about improving organization and workflow. There should be a place for everything and everything should be in its place. A printed and electronic version of the log book will show the location of everything. All parts, work to be done, pallets, drums, even the fire extinguishers should be logged.
If the location of everything is clearly marked off it is obvious when something is missing. When an employee needs a part or tool they will know exactly where to go to find it and where to put it back when they are done with it.
Key parts of the straighten step include:
- There should be a place for everything and everything should be in its place
- Limits are set on the about of work in progress and parts kept in the workstation
- Improve the workflow to cut waste, improve efficiency and productivity
- Work to be done, parts and supplies needed should be near each workstation
- All areas of the workplace should be sectional organized and clearly labeled
- All storage areas should be clearly labeled or marked off
- An electronic map or log that can be printed and distributed or posted should show the location of everything for easy reference
- Straighten is about improving organization, workflow, productivity and morale
Done properly the 5s System straighten step can improve productivity, eliminate waste and improve morale. Everyone will know where items are and movement will be reduced. Now that the sort and straighten steps have been completed it is time to move to the shine step.
For more information read these articles in the 5S System series: