Whether your facility has implemented lean methodologies already or you are just thinking about it now, you need to make sure you understand which lean supplies and tools you will need. Like most waste reduction strategies, the ideas are essential but they cannot be properly implemented without the right tools and products.
With this in mind, we've scoured the marketplace to find which supplies you need to ensure your facility is able to get the absolute best results possible from your lean strategies. Lean strategies are used in a wide range of industries and can be implemented in many different ways. To make it easier to understand, some of the products discussed here will be broken down by categories and others will be featured on their own.
5S and Lean
Before we delve too much into the actual products, it is a good idea to give a brief overview of 5S and lean. These two terms are often used with each other, and in this post you'll see them both frequently. While they are related in many ways, they are unique in others.
- What is 5S - 5S is a workplace organization methodology that helps to organize a workplace for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
- What is Lean - Lean, or lean manufacturing, is a systematic method for eliminating waste within the manufacturing process. There are several types of waste identified in the lean strategies and the goal of any lean facility is to reduce or eliminate them as much as possible.
So, within a lean facility you can use 5S practices to help organize an area, which will help to eliminate waste. Using 5S of Lean manufacturing is just one component, but a very important one. Hopefully this will help you to understand how 5S and Lean work together in many ways to improve the overall efficiency of a facility.
Of course, learning about 5S and Lean methodologies is something that you can spend an entire lifetime pursuing. Even if you're not a seasoned expert in these fields, however, the concepts are easy enough to learn and implement so your facility can enjoy significant benefits. They are very effective options for many facilities and when implemented correctly they can help boost the bottom line by eliminating waste and increasing efficiency.
Not surprisingly, one of the most effective ways to eliminate waste within a facility is to improve organization. When your warehouse supplies are all in their proper places, and when those places are optimized to ensure everyone can have quick access to them, there will be less delay in getting work done.
The following are some key lean products that can help you with organizing warehouse supplies in your facility. Remember, it doesn't matter whether you're operating a massive industrial warehouse, a busy shipping warehouse or just a small office warehouse, these supplies can be very helpful in improving organization and eliminating waste:
- Floor Marking Tape - Floor marking tape allows you to quickly improve organization in a variety of ways. You can identify where products go using different colors or patterns and you can also make it easier to identify aisles and other items in the warehouse.
- Industrial Label Printers - These industrial label printers can create custom labels to help improve the organization of your facility. Labeling drawers or bins that are on shelves, for example, will reduce wasted time looking for items.
- RFID Printers - You can use an RFID printer to make tags for products that can then be immediately located with the RFID reader. You can see how an RFID printer works in action here:
- Magnetic Tool Organizing - Hanging your tools up using a magnetic tool strip can keep everything right where it belongs. This is an easy solution to a common problem for auto garages, warehouse facilities and many other places. See how magnetic organizers can easily be made.
- Tool Pegboards - Storing tools out in the open where they can be seen can be very helpful. It will allow employees to quickly grab what they need, and ensure everything is put back where it belongs. Since the tools are hung up on the wall using a tool pegboard, it also saves space in most instances.
It is also good to note that there are many other types of warehouse supplies that you will need. Working with the employees as well as management to determine what types of supplies are needed is very important.
Managing Warehouse Supplies
For many facilities one of the hardest things to do is properly manage the ware house supplies that they have on site. This is different than managing the parts and other inventory that is needed for completing the work, however. Warehouse supply management is focused specifically on the items that are used to keep the facility working smoothly such as those listed in the previous section.
Keeping the supplies well organized and tracking when they are used will help ensure never run out, and that none are wasted. This is essential because even the items in your facility that are there specifically to help improve efficiency and eliminate waste can themselves be wasted or used inefficiently. The following are a few good tips for making sure your warehouse supplies are managed properly.
- Tracking Use - Whenever someone uses any of the warehouse supplies, it should be tracked. This will not only help ensure none are wasted, but it will also help to show that these items are useful within the facility.
- Proper Storage - Some warehouse supplies should be stored in a central location so they can be easily accessed by everyone. Others should be kept in a safer area based on their value or other factors that can be weighed in.
- Ordering - It may take some time but figuring out how often these items need to be ordered can help ensure you always have the right amount of them on site.
While the general warehouse supplies like this may not seem essential at first, anyone who works in these facilities can quickly confirm that they are. The supplies that are used on a regular basis serve to keep the facility up and running smoothly at all times.
Another great way to eliminate waste and improve your facility is by creating or improving the visual workplace. A visual workplace is present when the environment has lots of visual communication going on. There are a variety of great products that can be used to make your workplace more visual in nature. The following are just a few of the most common and most effective visual supplies available:
- Safety Signs - Safety signs are an excellent resource because they can convey a message to help protect employees or the facility as a whole, and the message can be seen even from some distance. By improving safety in the facility, you will be eliminating a lot of waste by ensuring production can continue as much as possible.
- Kanban Cards - Kanban cards are commonly used in ‘Just-in-Time' manufacturing facilities to signal when production needs to take place or when additional inventory items need to be gathered. These cards use visual communication techniques to convey messages throughout the visual shop.
- Lean Banners - You can place banners in facilities to convey an important message. These can be used for permanent visual communication or just to let people know about something temporary going on.
Another thing to keep in mind when working to improve your visual workplace is that everyone must be on the same page. It is very ineffective to have each department implementing visual ideas, which may contradict what other areas are doing.
For example, if one part of the facility is using the OSHA recommended color coding for things like signs or labels, but another one is using their own ‘in-house' standards, it can be very confusing. It is typically best to follow already established visual standards, such as those from OSHA. When that is not possible, however, having a facility wide standard is a good idea.
The Lean and 5S methodologies often go hand in hand because of the fact that they have similar goals. Whether you're using one or both of these strategies your facility can work to eliminate all types of waste throughout the workplace. To become a true 5S workplace, make sure you have the right 5S supplies available, including the following items:
- 5S Foam - This type of foam can either come cut out for specific tools or you can make your own custom cutouts. When done properly the 5S foam can help protect and organize any tools in the facility.
- 5S Symbols - There are many symbols used in 5S including things ranging from arrows to foot prints and much more. These symbols can be stickers to place on machines or floor tape to apply to the ground.
- 5S Labels - Many items in a facility can benefit from 5S labels including containers, machines, vehicles and more. Using an on-site industrial label printer will help further allow you to benefit from these useful items.
- Floor Signs - You've almost certainly seen examples of 5S floor signs in a variety of locations. These signs make it easy to convey a message to those in the area. You can have generic signs like ‘wet floor' or custom signs that are made for a specific situation.
- 5S Pegboards - Pegboards are a well-established organization tool used in many places. You can use them to hang up just about any type of tool or other item you need stored. This improves organization and eliminates waste by ensuring everything is in its proper place.
Having the right 5S supplies on hand at all times can help to dramatically improve efficiency and eliminate waste. Spending a little time up front determining what types of supplies you need will really help to prevent wasteful spending or choosing the wrong types of supplies for your facility.
For many facilities it can be very helpful to create a 5S event cart. These can be used anytime, but are especially important when attempting to find and eliminate a specific type of waste. These carts will have all the different 5S supplies in one place so it can be taken to the location of the waste. This can make it much faster and easier to make quick changes to benefit the facility.
While all warehouses are similar in some ways, they are also all going to be unique based on what goes on in them. Shipping warehouses are unique in that most items stored there are not going to be in place for very long. Warehouse shipping locations also have a lot of potential hazards and different types of waste that aren't typically found in other facilities.
Items come in, get organized properly and then are sent on their way to their final destination. The most famous types of shipping warehouses would be run by companies like UPS, FedEx or even the US Post Office. Of course, any company can have a shipping ware house that can benefit from lean strategies. The following are some key supplies for shipping warehouses:
- RFID Printers - RFID Printers can tag items as they come into the warehouse and then help allow tracking throughout the shipment process.
- Warehouse Shipping Printers - Printers that can create labels with barcodes or other ID items on them can be used to quickly apply the address and other information where the item needs to be sent.
- Visual Supplies - Creating a more visual shop in these warehouses will help ensure efficiency and avoid accidents. This is especially important in a shipping warehouse because you're either working with completed products, or items that are being sent through your facility by others.
- Warehouse Shipping Supplies - Having all the supplies that you need to do the actual shipping is obviously important. Items like postage printers, label supplies, boxes and more should always be available when they are needed.
It should be clear that a shipping warehouse is a very unique idea compared with most other types of warehouses. With this in mind you should always take the time to ensure you have the right lean supplies in place. You can't just use the same supplies as you would traditionally have on hand for another facility. While it does take more work, it will be well worth it in the end.
Whether you're working in a shipping warehouse or a storage warehouse or any other type, you need to make sure you keep up to date with warehouse maintenance. This can help keep everything in proper working order so it operates efficiently at all times.
While most maintenance warehouse supply items are built to be strong and long lasting, it is still essential to have them available when needed. Consider the following supplies and how they can help improve efficiency in your warehouse so you can achieve your lean goals:
- Warehouse Supplies and Equipment - The first thing you'll need is all the warehouse supplies and equipment necessary to have things running efficiently. Items like high-lows, forklifts, 5S carts and more. By doing things the most efficient way possible in your warehouse you'll be eliminating waste.
- Labeled Fluids - Much like a vehicle, many manufacturing machines require different fluids to keep them running smoothly. Having the oils, coolants and other items needed is very important. Also, tracking when maintenance is performed will help ensure the routine maintenance is completed on time to avoid problems.
- Hazardous Materials Labels - Creating hazardous materials labels can be very helpful in keeping everyone safe. They can be used to label fluid containers, such as in the case above, or on any other type of container or shipping vehicle.
- Shipping Warnings - If you will be shipping any type of dangerous or hazardous items, even if it is just between facilities of your company, the trucks need to have the proper DOT compliance signs. These will alert people who see it, or emergency responders, to the risk that is present on your vehicles.
- Pipe Markings - Marking pipes with information about the direction of flow and what is within the pipes can be a great way to reduce the risk of people working on the pipes, or those turning a pipe on. These markings can be inexpensive and long lasting, but they are also very effective.
- 5S Products - There are many 5S products made just for warehouses. Identifying the 5S items that were created specifically for this purpose can be a very effective use of your budget.
In reality, you may even have a maintenance supply warehouse or a part of your facility that is designated as the area where maintenance supplies will be kept. This can help improve organization and ensure the proper inventory is available at all times.
However you organize the supplies you are using, make sure you do everything possible to ensure all the different items are accessible when needed. In some cases it will be necessary to place labels, tape or other items in an area to improve safety so you don't want people having to search around for what items they need.
Lean Visual Management
Having a visual shop was mentioned above, but it is well worth the time to look at specific items that can help create a more visual workplace environment. Focusing on lean visual management techniques will help ensure your facility operates as efficiently and as safely as possible. Consider some of the following great lean visual management supplies:
- Value Stream Mapping - Creating (and posting) value stream maps within the facility can help to keep everyone focused. These maps can be custom made and printed on site, or created and sent off to a third party print shop to print on quality display paper.
- 5S Red Tags - This essential lean visual management tool allows people to ‘tag' items that need some type of action on them. There are many ways to use 5S Red Tags, and in all cases they help catch people's eye so they are aware that something is needed.
- 5S Cleaning Stations - Having a 5S cleaning station in your facility is very important. It helps to organize all the cleaning materials you have so you always know where they are and when you may be running low on supplies.
It is important to know that there is a difference between a lean visual management and operating a visual facility. While they certainly overlap and have a lot in common, there are also areas of difference. The lean visual management is set up to use visual items to push work forward. On the other hand, a visual facility helps to improve safety and efficiency throughout the area.
When working in a manufacturing facility there are lots of different supplies that you will need. Depending on the types of products you're creating, you'll need things like parts for assembly, materials for packaging, paint for finishing and much more. Having these supplies on site and well organized will help ensure you never run out of what you need.
Running out of specific products that are needed in your facility can cause significant delays in production, which of course is a form of waste. Of course, you want to make sure you are using lean manufacturing supplies which contribute as little waste as possible with packaging or other types of waste.
With this in mind, consider some of the following great lean supplies that will help keep your inventory organized and where it needs to be at all times.
- 5S Boards - Putting 5S boards up is a great way to identify how much of which items you have on hand. This is a visual way to logically organize what parts or inventory items you have and where they are located. Using the proper coloring you can also alert people when more of a specific supply is needed.
- 5S Carts - 5S Carts are a great tool that not only allows you to bring the products you need wherever they are needed throughout the facility, but they can also help you keep them organized. There are many types of 5S Carts on the market today and finding one that meets your facilities specific needs can be very helpful.
- Tool Cabinets - Having well-organized tool cabinets can ensure the tools that are needed are right where they belong at all times. This also ensures a central location for each item that you need when it is needed.
- Labeled Shelves - If your facility stores certain items for longer periods of time, having them on a centrally located shelving unit can be very helpful. Labeling these shelves properly can eliminate wasted time by allowing people to quickly locate what is needed.
Having the right supplies in the right places is absolutely essential to any manufacturing facility. If even one item is unavailable when it is needed it can cause serious delays. Without a good lean manufacturing strategy in place, your facility could experience extended downtime on a regular basis. This is why it is so important to take this type of thing seriously and improve your manufacturing supply management whenever possible.
The 5S methodology tends to get most of the attention, but 6S training and education is starting to become popular as well. The 6th S in this concept is safety, and it is a very important factor to consider. While some people suggest that safety improvements are built in to the other 5S's, a growing number of people are starting to believe that safety deserves its own category.
Whether you're treating safety as a separate issue or lumping it in with the traditional 5S methodologies, it is important to make sure it is properly addressed. Having the following 6S training supplies available in your facility can really help to eliminate waste by improving safety.
- Warning Signs - One of the most effective ways to prevent injuries is to ensure people are aware of potential risks. Having warning signs in place can add to the visual workplace while also keeping everyone safer.
- Warning Labels - As with the signs, these labels can contain essential safety information for any product or tool used in a facility. Letting people know what type of safety equipment and other items are needed is quick and easy with a well made warning label.
- Training Products - While some safety efforts are intuitive and come naturally in a facility, many others will require some type of training to be done. Having the ability to put on a training presentation to the company or even to each individual employee is very important.
With the right mindset, safety improvement efforts can impact the entire facility. Unfortunately, far too many companies look at investments into safety as a waste of money. If there are no major concerns, they are reluctant to making expensive changes.
The reality is, however, that investments into facility safety, especially through the 6S system, can really pay off in the end. It helps employees know that they are valued and protected, which can inspire them to work harder. Safety investments also reduce overall downtime and the costs associated with dealing with any type of incident in the facility.
Another type of supply that can be used in the facility to increase safety as well as efficiency are barriers. While barriers are normally items that people think of as a negative, they can actually be quite helpful.
Placing barriers in front of a ledge or staircase, for example, can help alert people to the hazard and even physically prevent them from having an accident. Some barriers will be permanent such as installed railings or walls. Others, however, can be moved around based on the need of your facility. Take a moment to review the diverse types of barriers you can use in your facility.
- Cones - Cones are a very simple barrier, but can also be very effective. You see cones in place outside on roads quite often, but they can be used in warehouses and other facilities as well. They are very easy to move around and will alert people to potential hazards immediately. Even if someone bumps into one, it won't likely cause them to fall but will alert them that something is there.
- Barrels - Barrels work in much the same way as cones, but they are significantly larger. These can be great for directing traffic, whether in a parking lot or in a facility. They can also prevent people from walking through an area that is supposed to be blocked off.
- Barricades - These are typically large objects that can physically stop a person from walking through, or even a vehicle from driving through. While not as easy to move around as cones or barrels, they can still be mobile.
- Fencing - There are many types of fencing available. Some will put up a permanent barrier and others can be moved around as needed. Fencing is a great option for outdoor areas such as construction sites where you want to keep unauthorized people out.
Having the right barriers in place for your facility can help to keep everyone safe. While this is not a high-tech solution, it really can be the easiest and most affordable option out there in many cases. In addition, there is no denying that these items can be very effective at keeping people out of unsafe areas.
Including the Employees
While understanding as much as you can about the different lean supplies available is helpful, it is essential that you know that the employees are key to success as well. No matter what supplies you bring into the workplace, or how helpful they can be, they will be essentially useless if the employees don't take advantage of them.
There are many ways that you can help ensure your employees implement the lean strategies and use the lean supplies that are being provided. The following are some key components to consider.
- Training - Of course, training is always an essential way to ensure employees are performing the way you would like.
- Incentives - Providing incentives to employees to adopt the standards you set can be very effective. This is a positive reinforcement strategy that has been proven effective in many situations.
- Enforcement - Of course, it is possible that some people will push back against any type of change. When this is the case it may be necessary to take corrective action against employees who refuse to follow the standards. This should be a last resort.
5S in the Workplace
As you can see in most of the above sections, 5S in the workplace can get quite complicated. There are many different products and other items that you need to be aware of, and have available to your facility. One nice thing about these items, however, is that they are often inexpensive and can last a very long time.
This can help ensure you are able to implement effective waste reduction strategies without breaking your budget. Remember, you won't need to have a full supplies warehouse just for the lean products and lean supplies that you'll use. Instead, review all your options and invest only in that which your facility can benefit from. Here are a few final tips to help you get the most out of your lean strategies.
- 5 S in Lean - You have to remember that waste elimination efforts can actually become wasteful. If you're spending hours of effort each week to eliminate minutes of wasted time, it is not a worthwhile option.
- Lean Stores - Take some time to learn where you can quickly get any lean supplies you need. You can then set up auto-orders or at least know exactly what you need to do when additional supplies are required. This will save time and make your lean strategies easier to maintain.
- 5S Materials - Don't just get the products you need, but also invest in the 5S materials for training and implementation. Some of these will be included with any orders you have for 5S products, and others you can find for free online. Sometimes, however, it may be worth it to buy the training and implementation materials along with the products.
As you can see, implementing a lean strategy throughout your facility will be challenging. If you work hard and get everyone on board, however, you will enjoy benefits for years to come. Lean strategies have been proven effective for decades now so take the time to start your facility down this road to success.
When done properly, your lean strategies can help reduce cost, improve safety and most importantly, eliminate waste from your facility. This will, over time, help your business to become as profitable and successful as it possibly can be with as little waste as possible.