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Archive for the ‘5 S’ Category

Getting more results from 5S Standardise & Sustain

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

By Paul Steven – KCTS Consultant

When working with a customer recently on 5S, they asked about taking the next steps after successfully completing 3S’s (Sort, Set-in-order & Shine) for the first time. In their eyes, all they needed to do was write up the standards on what to keep, where to keep it and how often to clean and that was job done. As I explained, the write up of such standards is very important but how were they to sustain, and even improve, these standards?

5S Standardise & Sustain

I explained my perspective to this customer, the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is a crucial element of sustaining all improvements. We must plan the physical changes and plan the documentation changes, just as they had, and then execute these plans. They had executed the physical changes and had yet to complete the documentation changes required for their first cycle of 5S. But once they have these documents, is that the end? Not when using Plan-Do-Check-Act, the Check-Act part requires us to review the results achieved from executing our plans and then act to attain more results, including better standards and better adherence to standards.

This had not been their perspective, but they were convinced once we discussed their next continuous improvement strategies. 5S has one of the best return-on-investments of any improvement strategy. This is in part due to its very simple conceptual model. This model can be applied to any area, real or virtual (such as when applying to IT systems rather than work places). The power of 5S is that you can continue to improve results without increasing the complexity of the model, no further training, nor confusion over tools, but merely focusing on more detail within the area.

The next steps for the customer related to fully integrating the changes across their 3 shifts. The people involved in the changes were from a single shift and whilst they had committed to the changes made, both physically and via the upcoming documentation, what about those with less involvement? Check-Act gave an opportunity for them to become involved, the next cycle could build upon the areas where they continued to have ambiguous or missing standards. This is what Standardise and Sustain is all about. We must create a baseline for further improvement.

They were persuaded that reviewing the standards was not failure but in fact part of the process. This change in perspective allowed the truth on some of the short-cuts taken to come out. The consultation method on items locations, which we had agreed before executing the plan, had not been as thoroughly used as they would have been preferred. They also noted that there was much that could still be found around the entire area to improve.

My customer is now excited that Standardising allows them this baseline to move forward and that Sustaining is all about supporting the next cycle of Sort, Set-in-order & Shine by capturing enthusing the teams to use and report their finding every day on the standards in their area. This data can came via audits or using people’s experience written onto Team Boards. Each team can find ways to improve the standards they use every day once Plan-Do-Check-Act is embraced.

If you would like to know more about delivering change everyday through your own people, please contact us here.

Top Tips for a 5S Engineering Workshop

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Written By: Sean Cole – KCTS Consultant

Engineering Workshops come in all shapes and sizes and varying degrees of tidiness and organisation, however, most are not fit for purpose. A workshop that always looks dirty clearly needs 5S, but what If you see rows of shiny red tool boxes and clean benches, surely this does not need 5S? Just because a workshop is tidy, does not mean it is well organised. The fact that there is more than one toolbox tells you there is waste. As with all 5S, you have to start at the beginning and ask what tasks are performed in the workshop and how is it used as a base for engineering work elsewhere?

I have found that the starting position of most engineers when asked to organise their workshop is: It’s a workshop, it gets dirty; I haven’t got time to clean up; They are my tools, that’s why the box is locked; I need my own bench because then I know I will have a clean space to work. Clearly, there is always a lot of history, but this should not discourage you from ploughing onwards and making a start, history does not always dictate how a future 5S workshop will be organised, only the current required functions and operations can do this.

5S and workplace organisation are well documented, but I will give you my Top 5 Tips to getting 5S really working in an Engineering Workshop:

1. Engage as many engineers as possible is an open discussion about what the workshop is used for. Keep the focus on identifying current losses in those tasks; time to find, waste materials, cleaning time, task time. If there are time and motion issues, keep the discussion on track to “just for a short period, while we see how better it is to work”.

2. During Sort, the Red Tags have to be cleared! The problem with engineering items is they have a perceived high value. This was true when they were purchased, however, they are only worth the scrap metal weight as you don’t have the connections to sell them. If items are spares, put them in the stores system, then they can be easily found and used. All too often you have spares for large items of equipment, but engineers who have been with the company for less than 5 years don’t know where to find them.

3. The other main tip for Sort is how to clear the tools. These are often owned by the Engineers personally and there is a lot of emotion attached to them. There are two stages to this, in stage 1 start by opening up the boxes and taking each tool in turn and asking honestly when it was last used. Sort into three piles, one for in the last month, one for six months and the third pile for over six months. Be sure to split up sets of spanners and hex keys, just the ones being used. Document the contents of each pile of tools, get the engineers to take the third piles home. The first and second piles are placed back in the toolbox, the under a month pile at the top where they can easily be found. Now buy the combined tools from the third piles and place them on a tool board / shadow board in the workshop. After a few months working in this way, start stage 2, open the tool boxes again, document the tool use again to ensure there are no unneeded items. Now, buy one tool box for each person on a shift, i.e. 3 for 12 engineers to share across four shifts, buy the tools as per the combined lists and place laminated check lists inside the lids of the tool boxes. At shift handover, simply include the checking of tools against the lists.

4. During the Set In Order, make sure that work flow into and out of the workshop is the top priority in the proposed new layout and that there will only be one main workbench for everyone. For the weekly and month repeat tasks, create dedicated work cells laid out with tools and can bans for local spares.

5. What really makes the workshop function is having procedures and systems documented for everything; cleaning, work orders, tool storage, work-in-progress storage, dedicated cell tasks and Red Tag clearance. Keep the procedures simple, one page mostly pictures with clearly numbered steps. As soon as new tasks are identified, have the engineers write the procedures for these tasks. Finally, train out the procedures to all the engineers and include checks for them explicitly in the 5S audits.

If you would like to know more about how you can start 5S in your engineering workshop, please contact us here.

Are you using Self Assessment Audits to drive your success?

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Written By: Paul Steven – KCTS Consultant

To control the quality of your products it is necessary to have an excellent understanding of the processes within your business. How are you judging your process performance?

Judging process performance of your systems can be measured externally and give you benefits, and it can be measured internally and give you different benefits. External audits can be objective, observation based and external audits measure a process compared to proven practices and experience. Internal audits can allow a much deeper understanding of the health of a process by assessors who use the process as part of their daily life.

Self Assessment is the process of allowing you to use a standardised audit to measure your process against an aspiration. Externally supplied Self Assessments allow you to measure your own progress against industry-standard aspirations or philosophical aspirations. Internal Self Assessments, especially when written yourself, allow you to measure the success of a process against internal aspirations.

Recently I have had the privilege to work with a customer on converting an external Self Assessment, supplied by KCTS, into an internal Self Assessment aligned to the company’s aspirations for the next 2 years. This allowed the language of the audit to be altered and the direction given by the company to be woven into the questions. This particular Self Assessment dealt with 5S, a subject close to my heart, and related to whether the process was truly embracing the Plan-Do-Check-Act philosophy needed to sustain and improve 5S within the workplace. My customer was at first keen to include specific documentation audits as a way to assess the success of the 5S processes, but as we discussed 5S processes and Plan-Do-Check-Act the need to evolve the processes became evident. This internal Self Assessment must look for the evidence of delivery of the process more than restricting it to a documentation checklist. Self Assessment allows reflection on whether the processes or the personalities are driving successes.

The resulting internal Self Assessment also has clear scoring criteria to allow every person within the area to understand and judge their current performance within the process. Targets are being agreed to ensure the audit is progressive. Self Assessment requires discipline to ensure that the score does not rise based on a need to show progress as openness must be the priority whenever Self Assessment is deployed.

To summarise, external assessment allows you to be compared to others but when written correctly Self Assessment allows you to compare yourself against your own aspirations.

The Do’s & Don’ts of Dealing with the “Nay-sayers”

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Written by: Cordell Hensley – KCTS Lean Consultant

If you’ve ever tried to make a change at work or implement a new policy, programme or project you have surely run into one of these characters; the ones who say “we’ve tried that before”, “it won’t work here”, or “here comes another management fad or flavour of the month”.  How you deal with these people can be the difference between the success and failure of your project. Even if they are not in a position to influence the project, they can sure make things difficult for you as the change agent. So the question is “how should we deal with these people”?

The first thing I would suggest is that we attempt to avoid it in the first place; we can often do this simply by communicating early, often & well. We talk about communication all the time, and we see good and bad examples of it. The better your communication with people involved in or affected by a change, the better that change will be accepted, implemented and sustained.

The second – and a lead into the first – is to expect resistance. Often the problem is that managers often think their ideas are so great, why wouldn’t the staff want to do this, that or the other thing? If we don’t expect the resistance, we will not be prepared for it. If we are not prepared for it, then we have a good chance of facing it.

If we have failed to anticipate it, or have anticipated it but been unable to stop it through effective communication then the first thing I would suggest is to try to find out where the negativity is coming from. Is it inherent in their personality (yes, there are people like that out there), is it the memory of a bad experience, have they been through many of these before or is it just the fear of the unknown or of change itself? Understanding where the negativity is coming from should help you deal with it and in many cases allows you to resolve the issues with the person or people who are resisting the project.

Depending on the reasoning behind the resistance the possibilities for dealing with it are many. Some suggestions for things NOT to do:

Don’t goad or push people into something they are uncomfortable with. You may have to force change through in the end but if you at least make attempts to understand the feelings and concerns of the resistors then you have a chance of allaying the fears or resolving the issue. If you force through the change without this “step” you could possibly make an enemy for life.

Don’t let emotions get involved. We are at work, this is not personal (or at least it shouldn’t be) and the more we can keep it on a professional level, the easier it will be to get to a resolution. Emotions build and people get more and more upset and nobody wins.

Don’t “lock horns”. When you are at an impasse or if things are not going well with this person, step away, take a break and resolve to come back later after putting some thought into how to approach the situation/person better.

Regardless of the reasoning behind the resistance there are plenty of Do’s as well:

Do listen and engage with people. Often the biggest issue people have is that they feel like mushrooms – kept in the dark and fed &^%$. Speak to them, communicate with them and treat them as humans- often this is enough to get past the resistance.

Do try to understand their point of view. While we may not always agree with it, resolving differences of opinion often requires the understanding of the other’s views. If we refuse to see things from their perspective, why should we expect them to see things from ours?

Do try to find some common ground. You may not be able to agree on everything, but if you can find some common ground then you have a position that you can move forward together from. Often in disagreements it is much less about the issue at hand, and more about the way we work with people. Finding common ground allows us to feel like we are on the same side. It reduces the barriers which will always help.

Resistance to change is normal, we can probably all admit to being that person at least once in our career. How we deal with it and the people putting it forward says a lot about us and who we are and it can be the difference between a successful project and a failure.

Quick Wins from 5S

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Written By: Paul Steven – KCTS Lean Consultant

5S has many specific definitions for each “S”. I prefer, Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardise & Sustain. All five should be applied together in sequence using Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) to drive a virtuous circle of improvement. PDCA means that rather than gaining perfection in a single cycle of 5S, success is found by repeating and learning from 5S through using it everyday. 

5S may be introduced by itself, but for quick wins I suggest you include the introduction of Standardised Work in conjunction with your 5S programme. Standardised Work is a subject entire books are written to describe and I shall endeavour to discuss it regularly whilst I blog. But as a start, the principle behind Standard Work is that if all people complete repetitive tasks in the same way each time they complete it and describe their methods so that others can do it identically then everyone who follows that method will have the same problems in executing it perfectly. Describing the method including symbols, drawings and photographs it is known as Standardised Work. As we strive for perfection in the method we can try to both understand and solve the problems involved in reaching perfection. Every time we solve a problem, we update the Standardised Work with the improved method and train everyone who uses it to ensure the maximum benefit from the improvement is felt. It is the fastest way to create a learning organisation where everyone’s problem solving is targeted for everyone’s benefit. Let’s look at how 5S and Standardised Work can compliment each other.  

When applying Sort for the first time you can have a number of benefits quickly whether using Standardised Work or nor. In addition to the removal of obviously unneeded items and engagement of allowing people to set their own standards at work, the biggest opportunities come from red tagging. Red tagging can be done using actual red tags or anything that you agree identifies items which may not be required. At the moment of tagging we just don’t know if the item in question is needed. The red tagging is your opportunity to deal with the item. In some simple but effective 5S programmes, the red tags will be cleared by quick discussion some that should be kept are disposed of and many that are not required will be kept, and perhaps shared to other departments within the organisation. This can form part of the virtuous circle of PDCA, but for a quick win from Sort you should use your Standardised Work to drive removal of red tags. The red tags should be kept or disposed of based on whether the items are mentioned within the Standardised Work. 

By having Standardised Work where all tools and necessary materials are accounted for, the red tagging leads to either faster removal of unnecessary items or improved Standardised Work. If you don’t have any Standardised Work, you should start writing how to work in an area whilst applying Sort as it helps you know what items are needed. Although you start writing the Standardised Work during Sort, as all 5S are introduced sequentially but together the Standardised Work will also be visualised during Set in Order. 

Once you try to remove any item using red tagging and Standardised Work, the real use of that item is quickly revealed. The item may now need to be included within a revised Standardised Work document or it inclusion agreed through a trial, or the item may need disposal and the proven standards reinforced. Whatever the outcome, if positive discussion and experimentation is used in the spirit of PDCA, progress is being made towards perfection. We are ensuring only that which is required within the workplace is kept within the workplace by applying Sort. Plus, we reinforce Standardised Work and continue to highlight problems which in turn can be solved by ensuring only needed items are kept in an area. As more problems are identified and solved, everyone benefits – KPI’s increase and work satisfaction improves as we strive for perfection in Standardised Work by eliminating problems.


Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
Written By: Paul Steven – KCTS Lean Consultant

Can Shine within 5 S bring a team together?

As written in previous blogs, 5S forms a foundation for improving your environment. If you need to improve your reliability or reduce the costs of your processes or even increase the capacity within your work place, you should consider using 5S.

The first S, SORT, allows you to select the things needed to complete your work which improves standardisation as only agreed tools, jigs and machines can be used. As Taiichi Ohno, father of TPS, says “Where there is no Standard there can be no Kaizen”, so we must try to get standards in place before trying to improve.

The second S, SET IN ORDER, ensures that you have a place for everything you kept from Sort and that you make it the correct place by thinking about how often you use it. Spaghetti Diagrams and Process Mapping can take Set In Order into the detail where you get quantifiable benefits by creating flow.

The third S, SHINE, will be my focus during this blog. Many explanations of 5S start from a position of single ownership. These explanations work logically on bringing pride and ownership into the work place, which is also true of shared spaces used by teams. When you apply Shine to your work station, in your factory or in your office, you begin to own the cleanliness of your area and set the level of “Shine” to where you find it acceptable.

But, how do you align your ownership with the others in your team when you all share an area. If you work at a specific machine or work centre, or have a desk within an office, you can own your cleanliness standards because it is your own area. Once that specific machine or work centre or that desk is shared across shifts or through flexibility within your business shared with colleagues as a hot desk, that ownership of Shine standards becomes more complex.

So, what can you do to get simple Shine standards? If you start with your standard for handing the area over to another person after use then progress can be made quickly to set Shine standards for Handover. These Handover standards are the best place for you to start building a common Shine standard. You may maintain your own Shine standards during your time within your shared area but if you agree a Handover standard with the other people in your team then you must reset to these Handover standards each time you leave.

Most importantly you should agree that every team member has the power to challenge each other to keep the Handover standards. Do this and success is around the corner for you and your colleagues. In the spirit of continuous improvement, kaizen, the most sustainable to grow commitment is to demonstrate success everyday. You must commit to your Handover standard before challenging others. Once successfully keeping the Handover standard, you will be able to think how to achieve that Handover standard throughout the day so that it can become a Shine Standard. Perhaps starting twice per day then once an hour and so on until it is attained naturally throughout the day. Once the standard is consistent across all the team, any improvement of the Shine standard has a better chance of being sustained.

Have you agreed your Handover Standards for your area? If not, I suggest you start today and if you don’t need a handover standard then I hope your Shine standards are ready for further improvement.

What is 5S?

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

A Place for Everything and Everything in it’s Place. 

Does this describe your work areas?

• Space is crowded with parts and tools
• Unneeded items are stacked between workers
• Excess inventory on the floor
• Excess items and machines make it difficult to make improve process flow
• Equipment is contaminated and a collection point for miscellaneous materials
• Needed equipment such as tools are difficult to find
• All of the above create an unsafe work environment
• Tasks and processes take different times and are unpredictable

Based on the Japanese words that begin with ’S’, the philosophy of 5S focuses on effective work place organization and standardized work procedures. 5S reduces waste and non value added activities, simplifies work environment and in the mean time improves quality efficiency and safety.
5S is a methodology for organizing cleaning, developing, and sustaining a productive work environment.

What are the 5S’s?

Step 1 – Sort – get rid of clutter

The first step focuses on eliminating unnecessary items from the workplace. An effective visual method to identify these unneeded items is called red tagging. A red tag is placed on all items not required to complete your job. These items are then moved to a central holding area. This process is for evaluation of the red tag items. Occasionally used items are moved to a more organized storage location outside of the work area while unneeded items are discarded. Sorting is an excellent way to free up valuable floor space and eliminate such things as broken tools, obsolete jigs and fixtures, scrap and excess raw material.  This step will also help with the „just in case” attitude.

Step 2 – Set in order – organize the work area

This step is based on finding efficient and effective storage methods.
You must evaluate the number of necessary items, the locations of those items and also evaluate what you need to do your job. Effective ways to set in order can be such as painting floors, using shadow boards, modular shelving and cabinets for frequently needed items etc. Just imagine how much time the employees waste every day looking for the proper tools for a maintenance activity. The philosophy must be this: „A place for everything and everything in it’s place.”

Step 3 – Shine – Clean the work area

Once you have eliminated junk and clutter and identified necessary items you are ready to take the next step: clean the work area. Daily follow-up is a must for this activity to sustain this improvement. This step will create ownership and build pride in the workers that they have a clean and clutter-free work area. This will also help the people notice changes in equipment and the production area such as: leaks, vibration, misalignment, breakage etc. If these abnormalities are left unattended they can lead to serious equipment failure and loss of quality, speed, production etc. These all add up to impact your company’s bottom line.

Step 4 – Standardize – Use standard methods to keep the good condition

Once the first three steps of 5S are implemented focus must be put on standardizing the best practice in the work areas. Give opportunities to employees to take active part in the development of these standards. All the workers area if given an opportunity can be a valuable source of information regarding their work.

Step 5 – Sustain – Maintain through discipline, commitment and empowerment

This is the most difficult part of 5S to implement. Human nature is hard to change. People often want to return to the old ways of doing things. Sustain focuses on defining a new mindset and a standard in workplace organization.

The fully implemented 5S will have a positive effect on everyone. People will feel better about their work place and the work they are doing. The benefits are endless. You will have improved safety, improved moral, improved productivity, and improved maintenance.

5S Total Productive Maintenance with KCTS

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

This video shows how 5S can help you implement Lean training in your workplace, using simple tools and techniques to drive and maintain excellent workplace organisation. Helping take you on a journey of Total Productive Maintenance, to becoming World Class.

Overview of 5S within Improvement Context (WCM Lean / Total Productive Maintenance (TPM))

Lecture and syndicate work for 5S:

  • Step 1 – Sort
  • Step 2 – Set
  • Step 3 – Shine
  • Step 4 – Standardise & Step 5 – Sustain

The course is designed to create 5S practitioners who can lead, or be involved in, the day-to-day 5S activities in their own business or factory. The delegates should have responsibility for delivery of improvements clearly agreed before attending the course. Practitioner training gives delegates the understanding of why a tool is used, what the key principles are, and most importantly exactly how to apply the tool within their business or factory using KCTS processes to deliver results.

5S is the foundation element of WCM Lean/Total Productive Maintenance as it allows many of the initial factory losses to be dealt with efficiently, and enables some of the basic improvement tools and techniques to be introduced.



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