Today's guest post is from Aimee Siegler, a fellow ASQ Influential Voices Blogger. Aimee is the global compliance manager at Benchmark Electronics. Her interests include supply chain management and communication, hazardous substance and risk management, and sustainability. She blogs at Thoughts on Quality in a Chaotic World. Today she shares some 5S advice from home that we can all relate to and how to use this in our businesses.
It seems like the set in order part of a 5 S should be easy, right? After all, you’ve got a nice clean canvas to work on, and you’ve already weeded out the junk. Last night, I gave this a try in the closet in my children’s bathroom. As you can see from the before picture, this closet was in need of some work. There are so many soaps stuffed on one of the shelves that I could not even see that I was out of something else that we regularly use. The tissue boxes perched on my laundry drying rack were courtesy of a request to my 6-year-old son Matthew, “Please put the tissues away.” I’ve been unable to find some towels recently because they were all thrown in haphazardly. Clearly, this was a 5s project waiting to happen.
Before Matthew went to bed, I asked him what things he would like to be able to reach. He told me that he wanted to be able to reach the washcloths, plus extras of things he might be asked to replace – the soap, tissues and toilet paper. The way things were, he could not reach or easily get to most of these things, meaning he had to balance on a stool or ask for help. One other issue that I had to deal with was chemicals – even on the stool, neither of my kids can reach the top shelf, so that is the only place that chemicals can be stored.
This morning, both of my kids were excited to see the results of my project. Their towels, plus the things Matthew requested were all neatly organized on the bottom shelf. There is no longer anything stacked on the drying rack, so the kids can easily reach the toilet paper. The next shelf includes towels that are used to wipe up messes, and the kids can also reach that easily. The towels my husband and I use are on the next shelf up, while the chemicals remain out of reach at the top. Next summer, Matthew and Hannah will be able to get their own beach towels out when we go to the pool.
Working on this project at home reminded me of a conversation that I had with a manufacturing engineer earlier this year. The engineer was very proud of the tool trays that he put together on a manufacturing line to make tools easily accessible to the operators. It fit right next to the workspace. When I audited the facility several months later, the tray was buried under paperwork and another layer of tools. When I asked the operator why the tool tray was buried, she said that those were not the tools she needed.
At home, it was okay for me to ask my son a few questions, get no input from my daughter (let alone my husband), and then tackle a small project. However, at work it is critical to involve the people who work in the project area to ensure that we are adding some value in doing the exercise. It is not enough to organize things neatly; we need to put things in the place that they are most useful. This engineer’s 5s project created a pedestal to store papers and hand tools; what kind of projects have you done lately?