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July 31, 2013

What is 5S?

We probably have discussed this before, but 5S is the foundation for all Lean and Kaizen events. What is 5S? In layman’s terms it is Personal, Professional and Process organization. Personal organization includes things to help you stay on task and keep track of your projects like your Things to Do (TTD) list, your computer hard drive and folders, and your email folders. As my Dutch Grandmother Nellie used to say, “A place for everything and everything in its place”. If you think you have a 5S program in place, you should be able to answer the following two questions affirmatively:

1. Can find anything you use on a daily or weekly basis in 15 seconds?

2. Do you have weekly 5S audits and post results with action items?

If you said no to either, you do not have a 5S program. Here are a few ways to function like a 5S program:

SORT : 5S starts with getting rid of anything you do not use. Or at least placing these items in a location out of the way, in storage where it does not confuse and hide the stuff you use daily. In other words, sort out all the non-essentials

SET : Organize what you have left. In other words set in order what you use daily or weekly. If you did a good job of getting rid of all the non-essentials, you should not have much left to organize. This is where we need “a place for everything‚Ķ” mentality.¬†Make your system visual or at least labeled clearly.

SHINE : Clean up everything! Shine your machine, tools, desk, drawers, cabinets, etc.

STANDARDIZE : Establish rules or guidelines to maintain the first three steps (sort, set, shine) How and when to Sort? Are you setting aside a specifically scheduled time to follow your process. Ask yourself Who? What? Ie. Rules for Set might include Who is responsible for each part of the organizing and the steps in order; like how to replace lost tools. Who will do it and what are the steps to follow in order for the replacement to occur; or Who will clean? And what order would you like the cleaning to happen? These steps should be typed and posted in the area. They should be used for audits.

SUSTAIN : Also referred to as Audits. Implement a weekly walk around and compare procedure to the posted processes to insure all of the above are being done. Reference metrics and actions as you walk through. Use Gemba boards. Get the site manager involved so that everyone is familiar with the processes and how they are working.

Success in 5S sets the discipline for all future continuous improvement.

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