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Monday, August 16, 2010

Guest Post: 5 Reasons for 5S

Today's guest blogger is Christian Paulsen, who authors Life's Lessons in the 21st Century Blog.  Christian is a food manufacturing manager with 20 years of manufacturing leadership and Lean Manufacturing expertise. He adds value to an organization by driving continuous process improvements and bottom line cost savings. Christian attended Purdue University on a Navy ROTC scholarship and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Mathematics. After serving in the US Navy, he pursued a career in manufacturing with Frito-Lay, Unilever (Lipton), and Nestle USA as well as smaller private manufacturers. You can also follow Christain on Twitter @Chris_Paulsen.

John, a young production manager, makes his way onto the production floor to see how an important changeover is progressing. He wanted to make sure everything is moving along as planned because orders are heavy this week and his team needed to be running the next product ASAP. In fact the scheduler wanted it yesterday and the trucks are already at the docks. John is disappointed to learn that the change over is running much longer than scheduled because the team cannot find some of the change parts for the filler... maybe now is the time to implement this 5S John has been hearing about.

5S is named for its 5 steps: Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain and is more than window dressing. 5S will bring several benefits to John's plant and your workplace. Let's look at the benefits to John's team as they implement 5S.

1. Housekeeping and Organization – When John's team has Sorted out the unneeded parts and supplies (1st S), they de-clutter their workplace. This enables them to Set Locations and Limits (2nd S). At this point, the team has a place for everything and everything in its place. John's team will not be wasting valuable line time looking for change parts during the next changeover since they have a defined location for the change parts.

2. Losses & Waste are Visible – The team will find abnormalities as they clean with a purpose. They find defects while cleaning to inspect as they Shine and Sweep (3rd S).

3. Continuous Improvement – Standardizing (4th S) enables everyone to follow these best practices. You should not expect consistent results when the practices are not standardized and you cannot consistently improve without standardization.

4. Structure and Discipline – John's team gains structure and develops self-discipline as they build systems to Sustain (5th S) their 5S initiative. Sustaining 5S can be the most difficult step and it will not be successful without structure and discipline.

5. Pride & Ownership – John's team finds that they have increased ownership since they have more invested in their work environment and they find gratification because they can make a difference.

John and his team discover for themselves that 5S is not just a housekeeping project and is more than window dressing. They find and eliminate defects, they reduce waste, and they are always looking for ways to improve. More importantly, they develop the structure, discipline, and ownership needed as a foundation for a Lean Manufacturing journey.

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