When considering 5S for your facility you will likely find plenty of resources to learn about what each of the “S’s” stand for, why it is effective, and much more. While these are very useful, it is sometimes best to just take a look at some specific examples of 5S strategies to see how it could be used in a more practical situation. The following is an example of a strategy for each of the 5 S’s to help give a better understanding of this important workplace improvement program.
Sort is the first S and is an effort to ensure everything in the workplace is kept in the proper place so that it is easy to find, won’t get lost, and can be taken care of. A simple example of this would be in an auto-mechanic shop where every single tool that is used in the facility is assigned a specific location to be kept when not in use. Compared to having to search through a general ‘tool area’ every time something is needed, this will save countless hours each year and offer many other advantages too.
Set In Order
After an area has been properly sorted out, it is time to set everything in order. This S goes hand in hand with sort, but really takes it to the next level. Rather than just assigning an item to one spot, the 5S team will analyze where that item will be best kept. In the example of the mechanics shop, an item like an air-hose that is used constantly will be kept very close to the work area. Another tool that is only needed on rare occasions will be stored in an out of the way location. A facility that is properly set in order will operate far more efficiently.
Most people think the ‘shine’ S is just keeping things clean, but that is really just the beginning. In addition to keeping a facility clean, shine means to keep everything in proper working order. In mechanic’s garage, this could include making sure all machines are properly lubricated. This is on top of wiping down workstations, ensuring tools are kept clean, and sweeping up any messes right away.
Once everything is in its proper place and kept in proper order, it is time to ensure everyone is doing things the proper way. Standardizing is an easy concept to understand, but a difficult one to implement. When a facility finds the best way of doing something, everyone should do it in the same way every time. An automotive example of this is seen at any racing track. You can see how all the pit crews change tires in the same way, and it is clearly the fastest possible option. While this may be extreme, it is a proven strategy that has been replicated across the industry.
Once changes have been made in the workplace, it is necessary to make an effort to ensure the improvements are maintained long into the future. The best strategy for this is to continuously monitor progress and provide immediate feedback should something change. In addition, offering new employees proper training to ensure they do things in the way that has been proven effective.
These are, of course, just simple examples of 5S strategies. Every workplace will need to identify where they can make their own improvements, and use the 5S system to get the best results.