Lean Training Consultancy.


Posts Tagged ‘manufacturing industry’

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.

Lean Qualification

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Value for Money – Recognition where it counts


As the UK markets start to show signs of recovery, how will businesses and individuals prepare themselves for growth, and more importantly where will we look for our future competitive advantage? One business process that has gained credibility throughout the recession is Lean Manufacturing. Responsible for the slimming down of a sector that was once ‘eating for two’, how do we continue on with these successes?

One possible solution would be to accredit the engineers and process operators (the backbone of the manufacturing industry whom have muddled us through recession – burdened with cost reduction frenzies) with formal recognition and qualifications.

KCTS has recently launched a new Lean Qualification that offers a range of continuous improvement skills to employees within production, quality and engineering roles. The qualification is made up of a number of units, the selection of which can be tailored to the needs of the employers overall Lean Programme and the candidate’s personal job role.

Candidates are engaged in short practical workshops that are focused around a key project. The project is selected within the learners work area and aligns with overall business KPI’s.  A typical project may involve;

•    Gathering data history for loss and waste.
•    Conducting a 5S audit of a work area.
•    Root cause analysis.
•    Creation of a plan to solve losses and improve a work area (5S).
•    Training out new SOP’s to colleagues.
•    Following a Plan, Do, Check, Act, methodology.
•    Sustaining improvement for a period of at least one month.
•    Reporting of actual benefits gained by the improvements.
•    Portfolio of evidence that demonstrates a lean process has been followed.

Candidates are assessed and guided every two to three weeks and always work to an action plan. Encouragement is given to communicate findings and potential solutions with front line managers.

Employee Benefits
For those who complete the KCTS Lean Qualification there are benefits to be had, such as;

• Recognising potential hazards in the workplace and knowing what procedures to follow in an emergency.
• Establishing and maintaining effective working relationships.
• Communicating effectively in the workplace.
• Understanding the principles and benefits of the 5S and Kaizen approaches to continuous improvement.
• Carrying out visual management activities in the workplace.
• Identifying potential problems and using appropriate problem solving technique to tackle them.

A Lean Qualification shows that an employee has reached a recognised national standard in Continuous Improvement methodology.

Employer Benefits
Employers receive a number of benefits by engaging their employees in a KCTS Lean Qualification, including:

•    An overall shift in culture towards one that supports reduced losses, reduced costs and increased customer satisfaction.
•    Employees who feel empowered to make their work place better.
•    Employees who see their job as more than just “turn up every day”.
•    A group of employees who have been leading change rather than being unwitting participants.
•    In the most part financially better off than cost neutral, and even more so in those cases where improvements are sustained.
•    Candidates directly involved with improvement projects are more likely to be involved with maintaining the results.

Aimed at continuous improvement engineering/maintenance craft, process operators, quality personnel, supervisors and managers who are seeking to become qualified in Lean.



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