5S As a Precursor to Continuous Improvement Activities
The traditional 5S reference meaning, Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain; or 6S with Safety as a separate category, is a good beginning to bring people, groups, departments, and the company heading in one direction for some space, safety, and likely efficiency gains.
Many suppliers and companies I have visited from raw material suppliers through finished goods production can do an adequate job keeping their ‘house’ in order, but there is not as much consistency throughout the facility without a guiding 5S program. Weekly inspections are needed to help bring slower departments up to the standard and others to maintain the good work they achieved. Without senior management constantly endorsing the new process and visible scorecards to show which departments are doing good to great, many programs can fail in the 60-90 day range as apathy and lack of accountability emerge due to foot-dragging supervisors, managers, and hourly employees. “We never did this before, why do we have to do it now?”
When the company direction is to establish a Continuous Improvement Program for whatever reasons, 5S is a good way to see just what the production and support areas truly need in equipment and space allocations to complete the current workload on time.
If senior management sees costs for the customers become an issue, customer complaints on the rise, more competition is now in the same space with lower costs, or back orders are impacting on time deliveries, a Continuous Improvement program will just become more difficult to successfully launch and maintain if only one product area at a time is being focused on. What happens when receiving, quality, packaging, maintenance, shipping, etc. are still mulling around in their less than optimal conditions? With more product moving through the same space and no efficiency improvements to give them a better response time, the only thing that might go higher is overtime or headcount in the support areas! Kind of defeats the purpose of cost savings.
Tell me what you have seen with your company(s) that has worked or flopped. If there is enough input I’ll put a blog together to discuss the results.