Being a sad "quality anorak" the 5 S' are part of Lean Manufacturing techniques and as ususal started in Japan. The basics borrowed from another website are:-
Traditionally 5S (or any of its derivatives) is thought of as being just about tidying up or good housekeeping and on a simple level it is, but approached properly it can be much more than that.
The S’s of 5S are originally Japanese words. Sort, Straighten, Shine, Systemise and Sustain have been commonly adopted to try and use 5 meaningful English words beginning with S.
The first step of 5S involves getting rid of rubbish and clutter as you might expect, it also includes cleaning, getting rid of dust and oil etc. In a machine shop it would include dumping broken equipment or tools and materials that have not been used in a significant length of time and are not likely to be used in the near future. Applying 5S to an office environment would include removing files and papers that have no use in the near future (often things you sort through on a daily basis wasting time doing so in the process). By getting rid of these unused items you can free up space, reduce the number of obstacles you have to walk around and find other more important items needed on a daily basis much more quickly.
“ Tagging” items is a common approach when deciding what is to be thrown away. An area is targeted, items likely to be disposed of are tagged with a red tag and a date, if the item is not used after a certain period of time (often somewhere between 1 to 6 months) it is then disposed of.
This phase of 5S is all about keeping things in their rightful place. Tools are put where they are needed, often utilising shadow boards thereby making sure they are to hand and labelled as they should be.
Ergonomics are taken into account, such that commonly used items are stored within easy reach, reducing the need for bending, stretching and excessive walking. Wheels are put on items that have to be moved, perhaps tool boxes and portable workbenches or storage chests.
All these things can be summed up if you compare a kitchen and typical garage. In a garage tools, paint tins, oil and dust sheets are often left around requiring a degree of searching in order to find what you are looking for. Compare that to a kitchen where cutlery is separated out into compartments in drawers, pans are easily to hand. Generally a kitchen is much tidier and easier to work in where most people can find the items they need.
Once the rubbish has been disposed of and everything has been given its proper place, this phase of 5S is all about maintaining the newly found order. Here the responsibility for workplace tidiness is moved back to the operators from the cleaners. Daily 5 – 10 minute cleaning routines are established to maintain a clean and tidy working environment. Operators are made responsible for their own working area keeping equipment clean and in good order and making sure tools are where they should be.
In a similar way to pre and post flight checks that a pilot might carry out, a cleaning regime is carefully documented and timed to make sure enough time is given to carry out the necessary work and everybody know what is required of them. It is important to make sure everyone has the right level of training for the tasks they have been assigned and that all this is noted in the “flight checks” documentation (which of course have their own place and should be kept to hand).
You could sum up this phase of 5S as “Maintaining routine”. Once the workplace has got through the first three phases it is often difficult to keep it up to the new standards you have set yourself. Do not underestimate how difficult it will be to maintain your new tidy work area, even Toyota have found that it can take months to instil this mind set into their employees.
Random, detailed audits of different work area are often used to help maintain standards. These should be suitably strict, both praising good practice and highlighting areas for improvement. Trophies and other staff incentives including making the audit results a part of staff appraisals have been used with different companies according to company culture.
From now on, we are moving into the area of “Kaizen” or ongoing improvement. All the previous steps of 5S have been about creating and maintaining a clean and tidy working environment. This phase of 5S is about moving forward not just maintaining the standards you’ve set yourself but building on those and raising the bar.
It means not just cleaning up spills and leaks but tackling the underlying causes of those problems. In order to do this it requires that records be kept of problems, when they occur, how often, how long they lasted etc. Having identified the biggest problems (perhaps using a Pareto analysis) action to tackle the sources of those problems can be targeted accordingly.
This phase of 5S involves a long-term culture change to one where systems and standards are accepted and valued as a way of improvement. Operators question what they can see is out of place and look beyond the symptoms of a problem to tackle the underlying cause.
Bill (aka sad git who needs to get out in the Westfild more)