Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"Lean" Principle 5S is More Than Just Cleaning House

Aside from being a "lean" principle, what exactly is 5S?

1. Sort
2. Straighten
3. Systemize
4. Standardize
5. Sustain

While there are many tools in the lean “library” of applicable principles, 5S would seem to deliver the largest impact in the shortest amount of time, making it an ideal choice for the quick-moving environment at Bishop-Wisecarver Group (BWG). BWG is in the process of making factory upgrades in the form of adding production floor space and capacity. 5S is also the simplest principle to implement, involving the least amount of training and multiple staff can conduct it at the same time. Many times, and definitely when it comes to lean, it would seem that simpler is indeed better!

The implementation of 5S instills a sense of pride in one’s work center and work environment. Staff participate hands-on in the Kaizen activities associated with 5S and subsequently work to sustain these principles. Normally, after 5S is initially implemented, others within the organization will begin to request that their work area has this principle applied to it as well.

5S can be closely approximated to spring cleaning – most people dread it, but when the end result is evident, everyone is generally more upbeat, positive, and energized to return to their work processes which can now be conducted in a manner that is cleaner and more efficient than ever before. As BWG is upgrading its technology as well as the capabilities of the production floor, making room for new equipment and new processes, simultaneous advantages begin to emerge that ensure a more optimal internal process, as a greater value available to the customer.