By Jon Miller | Post Date: February 8, 2005 11:27 PM | Comments: 7
Visiting a plant tour at a Midwestern cold rolled steel mill today, I had the chance to reflect on what makes a 5S effort sustained and successful. The owner took me through the mill and showed me a line at the start of the tour that was clean and well organized. The 5S deteriorated rapidly from there. He was quick to point out to me cabinets that needed organizing, items that needed to be thrown out, and machines that needed to be cleaned. I only had to walk and nod.
The workforce had been through JIT training in the past which included 5S and workplace organization. Due to turnover, a tight job market, and rapid growth there had been a lot of change in personnel. Many of the newer workers were not aware of 5S. The owner recognized that the Lean effort needed to be re-energized and 5S was a good place to start.
During a question and answer session with the management team we talked about why just the one area had sustained good 5S and the rest of the shop had not. We needed to understand what the success factors were before launching 5S training. What kept us from sustaining 5S? All of the usual suspects were raised, from lack of training to differences in personality to the grimy nature of the process to the location in the plant (out of sight, out of mind).
I could not tell them which of these (all? none?) were the specific reasons why they only had one area that had good 5S and the other areas all needed help. Based on our experience, I was able to share with them what we have learned are the 3 key factors to sustaining 5S successfully:
First, people have to be motivated to change. As many Lean Champions have learned, human beings resist change when it is done to them. Human beings accept change when they are involved and the change is meaningful to them. This is no different with 5S.
Imagine if someone else did 5S for you in your area, throwing things out you have been saving 'just in case' and putting your tools in new locations. That would be an unwelcome change. On the other hand, if you were able to take the time to clear out what you did not need, make space to properly locate the items you need, fix the machines so they don't leak oil, etc. you might feel a lot better about your work space.
I gave the example of a wrench that kept migrating from the "correct" position on a shadow board to laying flat on a small workbench near the machine. When asked why the operator did not return it to the shadow board, the answer was "That's not where I use it." This is basic stuff, but too often forgotten in the eagerness to do 5S according to pictures in the text book. Let the machine operators decide where the wrench goes and it will stay there.
Second, 5S activity should clearly be linked to the team's performance goals. Help everyone see how good 5S reduces set up time and increases pounds produced per labor hour, and good 5S will be sustained. Lack of performance goals or lack of interest in them is a separate organizational issue that needs to be addressed prior to Lean or 5S.
Third, audit. For some of us the natural state of our desk or workstation is clutter. The universe tends towards entropy (disorder). It's human nature to let a little bit of clutter go unnoticed, especially if productivity numbers are good and we make sure to look sharp when customers come through.
Toyota did not get to be the number 2 automobile manufacturer and the most profitable automobile company by leaving details like 5S to chance. Use the 5S check list to go through each area at least monthly and post scores with recommendations for improvement. Have managers take an interest in this and recognize the top performers. Take 5S seriously, and show that you do, in other words.
These are basics, but teams win championships by sticking to the basics and executing simple plays flawlessly. The same is true in manufacturing and 5S is just as important as making sure you run onto the field with your shoelaces tied.Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.