What is needed in a Lean 5S toolkit?

In Lean workplaces there will typically be one person, or a small group of people, who are responsible for ensuring the standards for Lean are followed. They will, of course, have help in making changes, finding root causes, and measuring success, but keeping the Lean 5S strategies moving forward will rest on their shoulders.

This means they will need to spend a lot of time out on the ‘shop floor’ talking with people, watching processes, looking for waste, and generally observing how things are, and how they can be improved. When out on the shop floor many people will bring their ‘Lean 5S Toolkit,’ which contains some essential items to accomplish their goals. While every toolkit will be unique based on the specific environment, the following are some standard items that virtually every Lean 5S Toolkit will require.

Notepad and/or Tablet: Taking notes on what is observed while on the shop floor will be absolutely essential. These notes can serve as reminders of what was seen, instructions for what needs to be done, and much more. Many people will simply have a notepad and pencil to jot down what they will need. Tablets like iPads, however, are quickly growing in popularity due to their ease of use and great flexibility.

Camera (May be Part of the Tablet): There are many times when you will want to take a picture of a particular area that you want to work on. Having a good quality camera with you will make this fast and easy. If you already have a tablet, it is likely that there will be a camera built in. The cameras on modern tablets are very good, and using the built in option will have the added benefit of being able to edit the picture immediately. Taking a photo and then adding in arrows or notes right away is a great strategy in Lean.

High Quality Flashlight

While most tablets do have a flashlight built in, this is one area where you are going to want to bring a separate device. Having a focusable flashlight will allow you to illuminate specific areas so you can see them, even at a distance. If there is a machine that is producing defective parts occasionally, for example, you may want to be able to shine the light into it while it is running to try to see what is wrong. A good flashlight is essential whenever walking out onto the shop floor.

Tape Measure: A tape measure is something that isn’t likely to be used every time you go out onto the floor, but when it is needed, there is really no substitute. There are many times when measuring things will be necessary for finding ways to improve efficiency in the workplace. Having this simple item in your Lean Six Sigma toolkit is a great idea.

Stopwatch: A stopwatch can be invaluable when measuring how long something takes. This can be helpful to compare the length of time each part requires, and seeing if it is always consistent. When adjusting processes, for example, you can time how long it takes using several different methods. When it comes to producing thousands of items per day in a facility, shaving off seconds can really add up to a love of savings.

Always Customize Your Kit

While the above-mentioned items should be in just about everyone’s Lean Six Sigma Toolkit, there will be other things that you will need as well. Understanding your specific environment and what you will need will help you to determine what you should bring with you in your toolkit.


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