Lean Tools: 5S, Standardize, and the Marching Hundred

Posted on February 21, 2012 | in 5S, Lean Tools, Manufacturing, Standardized Work | by

We’ve covered the first three steps of 5S – sort (also here), set-in-order, and shine.

The good news? Those three steps are everything you need to overhaul a work cell and make it organized and clean.

The bad news? Each of those steps are essentially isolated events. The work cell no longer contains things that don’t belong, everything that does belong has a spot, and the cell is clean…for now. One group of operators/users sees the cell at its optimal condition…how do we communicate this optimal condition to other shifts or groups of users?

That’s where the fourth step of 5S comes in – standardization.

Standardization is the communication and maintaining of standards and expectations across multiple groups of operators and users so everyone is experiencing or using the work area in the same manner. Ideally, every operator and user is in lock step and marching together with regard to work cell organization.

(Were you wondering how I planned to relate this to a marching band? Well there you go.)

One way to communicate work cell conditions is through colors and visual factory. Floor colors, table and stand colors, and signage can help provide instructions or indications to all workers. In the above image, the tape/paint on the floor indicates what types of items go in what location – the green spaces are for finished goods, yellow indicates an aisleway or safety area where no items are supposed to go, and so forth. The purple and gray stands indicate left side and right side parts.

Other methods of communication include signs, pictures, posted cleaning standards, shadow boards, and anything that makes it very clear where things are supposed to go and the level of clean an area requires. Colors, shapes, sizes, signs, and images should remove all ambiguity.

The work cell should also be regularly inspected and audited in timely intervals. Daily or end-of-shift cleanliness and organization checks according to a checksheet or work instruction should be conducted. This helps achieve two objectives.

  • One, management or supervision can regularly check to see that standards are being kept and if there are any anomalies they can either be corrected or the standards can be updated to reflect process changes or improvements
  • Two, management and supervision can drive home the importance of following the standards by demonstrating active involvement and visibility of their attention and valuable time.

Comparatively speaking, the first three steps of 5S are simple but to standardize the steps across all operators and users is difficult and will take time…and achieving the level of sustainment (the fifth step) takes even longer.

Key learning: Standardizing in 5S is taking the first three steps (sort, set-in-order, shine) and communicating them across multiple shifts/operators/users.

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One Response to “Lean Tools: 5S, Standardize, and the Marching Hundred”

  1. Pingback: Lean or Sushi?? | Lean Blitz – Do it better.

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