When you think of amazing, life-changing, all-in-one, revolutionary cleaning products an image of the late Billy Mays probably pops into your head. The as-seen-on-TV pitchman pushed products that would make your life better, simplify processes, and reduce the need for any other items in your cleaning cabinet.
(If Lean Blitz was an as-seen-on-TV product, Mr. Mays would have been the chosen pitchman. Imagine how excited he’d sound when yelling “Blitz!”)
The stereotype of 5S is that it’s a Japanese term for “throw everything out and start cleaning.” There are also reasons why stereotypes exist – they are often true and based on observed events.
The first three S’s can’t be summed up quite that concisely but that is a basic premise – remove everything you don’t need there (sort), find places for everything you DO need (set-in-order), and now there is 5S shine – a physical cleaning of the work area.
BUT! The shine step goes further than merely cleaning. The objectives of shine include:
First, the deep clean. Using cleaning products and cleaning tools, clean the entire work area thoroughly. Top to bottom, front to back, get rid of every bit of dirt, dust, grime, grease, and everything else that is not part of the basic condition.
(Side note: the term “basic condition” means taking the work cell as close to brand new condition as possible. Grease-free floors, absolutely zero dust buildup on machines, windows as clear and transparent as possible, etc. The closer the work cell is to a brand new work cell, the better. Obviously this won’t be 100% possible because some deterioration will occur under normal usage, but get it as close as you can.)
When the work cell is as close to “basic condition” as it can get, you now have a standard of cleaning by which all future cleaning events will be based. You are now equipped with the knowledge that, yes, this work cell CAN get to this level of clean. Now it’s important to keep it there. Create a documented standard of clean for all critical cleaning points (floors, doors, moving parts, anywhere that dust and grease can build up) by taking photographs of the individual points in their cleanest state. When future cleaning events (read: daily/shiftly cleaning) occur the cleaners/operators now have a basis to know if an area is dirty or not because they’ll have the photo of how it’s supposed to look.
Make it simple to identify anomalies and problems. One way to do this is to paint walls/parts/floors so it’s easy to see a problem when it occurs. White floors and walls are popular because most dirt/dust/grease isn’t white and the contrast can be seen from a distance. Improved lighting conditions can help with being able to see problems too. Sight glasses for fluid vessels and transfer pipes/hoses could help identify corroded or dirty fluids contained within the systems. Opaque panels replaced with Plexiglas or other transparent plastic window options help with visibility too. The point of finding the anomalies is to help find problems quickly and get them addressed faster than having to use a guess-and-check game.
And lastly, find ways to simplify the cleaning process – this is where Billy Mays would jump in. To maintain the basic conditions you’d likely want to use all of the cleaning products applied during the deep clean. Well, what if you could consolidate those cleaning supplies into fewer numbers? Is there an all-in-one cleaner that would take the place of two or three of the original cleaners?
What about tools – would it be easier if cleaning tools were kept close to where they would be needed? Should they be stored in a closet or on a wall using a shadowboard or point-of-use storage so you can tell if something is missing?
One of the key purposes of 5S is discipline – not extracting punishment on those who violate rules or expectations, but the self-discipline required to want to do things right. Maintaining the discipline required to continually keep work areas orderly and clean is easy to do once, but can it be repeated? Does your team have the discipline to maintain the cleaning standards and make sure expectations are being met? Do YOU as a manager have the discipline needed to demonstrate that sorting, setting-in-order, and shining is key to the day-to-day business success?
Key learning: Shine is the step of 5S that brings work areas back to basic “deep cleaned” conditions and finds ways to keep it there.