A Practical Approach to the Successful Practice of 5S
While some Lean Six Sigma practitioners consider 5S a tool, it is more than that. 5S, abbreviated from the Japanese words Seiri, Seito, Seiso, Seiketsu, Shitsuke, is not just a methodology, it is a culture that has to be built in to any organization which aims for spontaneous and continuous improvement of working environment and working conditions. It involves everyone in the organization from the top level to bottom. The Japanese developed this simple and easily understandable words religiously practiced the philosophy of 5S at every aspect of their life and have made it a world wide recognizable system.
Too often in Lean Six Sigma the 5S philosophy is confined to one classroom training session or, at best, used as a one-time implementation methodology that then dies its own death due to negligence. 5S is not a list of action items that has to be reviewed at some interval of time. Instead, it has to be practiced as a daily activity, which requires concentration, dedication and devotion for sustaining it and ultimately making it a company-wide culture.
A proper and step-by-step process has to be followed to make 5S a practice and a success.
Plan-Do-Check-and-Act Approach to 5S
The Plan-Do-Check-and-Act (PDCA), or "Deming cycle," of implementing 5S is very effective. This is a never-ending process and has to follow a process approach.
Step 1: Seiri, or Sort
Seiri is sorting through the contents of the workplace and removing unnecessary items. This is an action to identify and eliminate all unnecessary items from the workplace. Actions items:
1. Look around the workplace along with colleagues to discover and identify items which are not needed and not necessary to complete work.
2. Develop criteria for disposal for not-needed items.
3. Take "before" photographs wherever it is required.
4. An effective method for recording progress is to tag the items not needed. This visual control of the not-needed items is often called red tagging.
5. While red tagging, ask these questions:
Is this item needed?
If it is needed, is it needed in this quantity?
If it is needed, how frequently is it used?
If it is needed, should it be located here?
Who is ultimately responsible for the item? (Verify from that person.)
Are there any other not-needed items cluttering the workplace?
Are there tools or material left on the floor?
6. Find a holding area to put red tagged items.
7. If it is difficult to decide whether an item is necessary or not, put a different tag and segregate it in the holding area.
8. Classify the items by frequency of use.
9. Items or equipment used hour by hour or day by day should be kept within arms reach of the point of use.
10. Items or equipment used once a week or once a month should be kept within the work area.
11. Items or equipment used less frequently should be stored in a more distant location.
12. Unneeded or unnecessary items should be stored in the holding area.
13. Individual departments should each have a holding area.
14. A holding area should be clearly visible and clearly marked to assure visual control of items.
15. Display pictures of items and place it on a public board visible to all.
16. Responsibility for the holding area should be assigned to some at the beginning of sorting activity.
17. The items in holding area should be kept for three or four months. If the items are not needed for work, then the items can be disposed. It is always necessary to verify plans to dispose of items with anyone who had been using these items in the past or are presently using the same or similar type of items.
18. Items should be moved to a company-level holding area before final disposal of the items.
19. The facility manager or an authorized person has to evaluate the items.
20. Disposal should be done in either of the following ways.
Move to other department/section where the items are required.
Sell to someone outside the company.
Discard and haul away.
21. Dispose all items which are broken or have no value.
22. Take "after" photographs wherever it is required.