People make improvements in their lives every day. They improve their home, their health, their car and everything around them that can make their life better. Why not apply this same principle in the workplace? Why not improve the environment you work in 40 hours or more a week? Why not setup a system that helps you work smarter, not harder?
5S is a reference to a list of five Japanese words which are part of the Kaizen philosophy of workplace management. It is a method of organizing and managing your work spaces and work flow to improve efficiency, eliminate waste and reduce and improve processes. A clean workplace also improves morale.
A 5S program is not just about cleaning up. It will create a continuous process for improving your work environment. A 5S system will get rid of anything that is not needed, organizing everything that is, cleaning on a daily basis, standardizing to maintain the system and having leadership and team members exercise the self-discipline to make it a daily habit.
Here is the 5S system we have adopted in our Service Depot.
- Sort through each workspace and remove anything that is not needed. The goal is to reduce the number of items in the area.
- Keep only what is needed in a workspace. Dispose of or put in place what is not needed.
STRAIGHTEN – “A place for everything and everything in its place”
- All tools, parts and equipment to be tested or repaired have designated areas. They should be kept in and returned to those designated areas.
- Do not stock equipment to be repaired in the shop. Only bring in what you will be working on.
- All boxes to be reused will be stored outside of the shop in the designated area.
- All carts and hand trucks will be stored outside of the shop in the designated area.
- All large parts are to be stored outside of the shop in the designated areas or in the parts room.
- Parts and supplies will not be stockpiled in work spaces with the exception of a small quantity of the most used parts in 2-3 small boxes that go under the bench on the shelf and in part bins.
- Your goal will be to have your work completed and the workspace cleared of equipment you are working on 20 minutes before it is time for you to leave.
SHINE – Cleanliness
- Clean at the end of the day and as you work. Dispose of trash. Dispose of scrap. Dispose of cardboard. Dispose of anything no longer of use as you work.
- Benches should be wiped down daily and testing equipment cleaned as needed.
- Floors should be swept at the end of each day and mopped once a week.
- Trash cans are emptied at the end of each day.
- Parts received are put up when they are received.
- Trash can liners will be used. No heavy parts are disposed of in trash cans.
- The STRAIGHTEN-SHINE Checklist is performed during the last 20 minutes of your work day.
- Detailed system maps will show the designated areas for everything.
SUSTAIN – Self-Discipline
- Maintaining a stabilized workplace is an ongoing process of continuous improvement.
- Technicians should take pride in keeping their workspace clean and organized.
- The 5 S’s should become a part of your daily routine. Make it a habit.
One of the best things about a 5S program is it cost nothing to implement. Often a 5S program is implemented then forgotten. The only way to ensure this does not happen is to make it visible and measurable. Put up 5S posters. Create a checklist for each workspace to be carried out at the end of each day. They are a visible reminder at each workspace what should be done.
On the last day of the month have a Sort, Straighten and Shine event. Bring in snacks, drinks and music. Be creative with the event. Involve everyone in the program. Nobody knows better than those who do the work what system works best. A solid 5S program should be the cornerstone of your cycle of continuous improvement.
Here is an example of a 5S poster in Microsoft Word format. 5S-Poster
Here is an example of a 5S checklist in Microsoft Excel format. 5S-Checklist