If the overall goal of 5S could be summed up in a single word, it would be “organization.” An organized workplace is a safer more efficient workplace, where morale is up, waste is down, and preventable accidents simply do not occur. We can all agree that we’d like to work in organized surroundings, but how do we get there?
If you answered thoughtful, comprehensive floor markings, you’re either way ahead of the curve or you read the headline above. Either way, that’s a great answer, because not only can floor markings go a long way toward improving your 5S organizational efforts, but they’re also incredibly cost effective. Thanks to their high-visibility and long lifespan, coupled with a low cost per foot, floor markings can make a huge difference in your facility, without putting a big dent in your budget.
Floor Markings And The Five Pillars
As you likely already know, the 5S methodology breaks down into five distinct pillars. The best way to examine how floor markings can benefit your 5S efforts is to examine each pillar individually.
The Sort step focuses on removing waste and unneeded items from the workspace, and ensuring that everything that’s in the workspace is necessary for the task at hand. Floor markings prove valuable here for their ability to demarcate designated waste areas. It seems like a simple idea, but by creating a specific place for waste that is easily found and known to everyone in the area, waste will more easily find its way there, and workers will naturally begin to remove waste and deposit it in the waste area as it accumulates near them. As we mentioned above, everyone wants to work in an organized workspace, and clearly marked waste areas empower workers to contribute to those efforts.
Set in Order
Perhaps the most obvious use of floor markings, the Set In Order step is focused on finding a proper place for everything in the workplace. That includes not only products, materials, and equipment, but also workers, forklifts, desks, pallets, and anything else that might be located in a facility. Floor markings work phenomenally well for this purpose. With minimal time and effort, you can create walkways for pedestrian traffic, lanes for forklifts to follow, and clearly outline each individual worker’s workspaces, ensuring there’s never any confusion over where work actually occurs.
One of the best uses for floor marking lies in creating “homes” for equipment. Let’s say your facility, like many facilities, relies on pallet jacks to move heavy loads from one part of the building to another. While undeniably useful, those pallet jacks can be a hazard when not in use as they’re heavy, they have two large, semi-sharp prongs, wheels, and some are even motorized. Since a pallet jack is far too large and heavy to toss into a closet, the best way to store the jack is to create a rectangle of floor tape somewhere out of the way specifically for that jack. This rectangle will serve as a visual reminder that the jack should be stored when not in use, and as workers become familiar with the new “home” you’ve created, they will automatically return the jack to this location without a second thought.
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The Shine pillar is concerned with cleaning, and while floor markings won’t wash your windows, they can help make repeated cleaning efforts simpler and more effective by creating visual cues for where cleaning supplies are located, and providing (literal) guidelines for each distinct area of the facility. As we mentioned previously, workers are also more likely to automatically remove waste from their workspaces if they’re aware of a clearly designated waste area -- and that can save you a ton of time and effort you’d otherwise spend cleaning.
The goal of the standardize pillar is simple: Take stock of all the progress you’ve made in the prior three pillars and find ways to ensure those gains don’t dissipate. Those ways might include regularly scheduled 5S events, a chart detailing cleaning and organization duties and who is responsible for each, and frequent gemba walks to evaluate the ongoing status of the facility. Floor markings are very valuable here, as the vivid visual reminders they provide help to remind workers of a facility’s organization goals, while providing clear outlines for each of the facility’s discrete areas. That makes it easier to divvy up tasks among multiple workers, and ensures that they can tell where materials and equipment should go at a glance.
The most important pillar, Sustain aims to continue the progress you’ve made in the prior four steps well into the future. High-durability floor markings, such as Creative Safety Supply’s own SafetyTac® line of vinyl marking tape, prove especially effective here, as their long lifespan and refusal to fade, crack, or flake off provides clear visual cues that you can rely on day after day. That’s one less aspect of your ongoing 5S efforts to worry about.
Removing old markings is essential because of the fact that they could lead people into danger. If someone follows an old sign expecting a fire extinguisher, and one is not there, they could get seriously injured. This would also prevent or delay them from being able to put a fire out, which puts the entire facility at risk.