Saturday, July 10, 2010

Excuses for not implementing 5S

Implementing 5S is a change point and people with organizations are afraid of change. The top 10 excuses for not implementing 5S are :

1. I don't have the time.
2. I can't get the funding.
3. My boss will never go for it.
4. Were not in the kind of business likely to innovate.
5. We won't be able to get it past legal.
6. I've got too much on my plate.
7. I'll be punished if I fail.
8. I'm just not not the creative type.
9. I'm already juggling way too many projects.
10. I'm too new around here.

So, how as a lean leader do you get beyond these excuses?

1.) First and foremost, turn each excuse into a question. Begin with "How can I" or "How can we" (For example - if 5S is a priority, how can I or we create time for implementing 5S.
2.) Brainstorm with your team. (Need to create a mindset of how we can do vs why I cannot do)
3.) Take action immediately, don't worry if the plan is not 100% complete. They say the best kaizen is an implemented kaizen.

As a leader of the organization, it's your job to create a kaizen mindset or let's try mindset. Ofcourse in order to promote this type of mindset, the systems must be in place so people are not penalized for failures but are recognized for trying something new and learning from it.

To learn how to implement 5S click here -

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Benefits of implementing 5S

5S is and should be more than just housekeeping, it is a part of total lean strategy. This is because many of the benefits are systemic in nature, they cannot be just evaluated in isolation from other elements of lean. However 5S is a fundamental lean tool and should be the 1st step in any organization's lean journey.

Implementing 5S methods in the plant would help the company to reduce waste hidden in the plant, improve the levels of quality and safety, reduce the lead time and cost, and thus, increase company's profit.

Measurable benefits of 5S
1.) Safety - A 5S workplace typically will result in reduced acute injuries by up to 70%.
2.) Space - An organized workplace will result in significant(10-50%) space savings. This space could be used to produce other products or leased out to other companies.
3.) Wasted motion - Again due to an organized and visual work place can reduce walk times and improve productivity
4.) Morale - Pride and morale are notoriously difficult to measure but critically important. While there are survey tools for such measurement, they are time-consuming. The practical effects are seen primarily in absenteeism, turnover and productivity.
5.) Kaizen mind - The rigor, discipline and analysis inherent in 5S can contribute to the development of the "Kaizen Mind." This is a culturally induced attitude of constantly looking for and implementing improvement, particularly at the level of an individual worker or a work team. For more on this see "The DNA of Toyota" and Quick & Easy Kaizen. One way to measure this is with the number of suggestions per employee.

For more information on how to implement visit

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What is 5S

5S is a management acronym that uses a list of five Japanese words which are Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu and Shitskuke. 5S has gained fame in manufacuturing or for that matter in healthcare under the umbrela of lean manufacurturing or "Toyota Production System". The 5S looses translates into english as follows:

Phase 1 - Sorting: Go through all tools, materials, etc., in the plant and work area. Keep only essential items. Everything else is stored (for later use) or discarded.

Phase 2 - Straightening or Setting in Order: Basically there should be a place for everything and everything should be in its place. The place for each item should be clearly labeled. Items should be arranged in a manner that promotes efficient work flow. Each tool, part, supply, piece of equipment, etc. should be kept close to where it will be used (i.e. straighten the flow path). Seiton is one of the features that distinguishes 5S from "standardized cleanup".

Phase 3 - Sweeping or Shining or Cleanliness (Systematic Cleaning): Keep the workplace clean as well as neat. At the end of each shift, clean the work area and be sure everything is restored to its place. This makes it easy to know what goes where and ensures that everything is where it belongs. A key point is that maintaining cleanliness should be part of the daily work - not an occasional activity initiated when things get too messy.

Phase 4 - Standardizing: Work practices should be consistent and standardized. Everyone should know exactly what his or her responsibilities are for adhering to the first 3 S's.

Phase 5 - Sustaining the discipline: Maintain and review standards. Once the previous 4 S's have been established, they become the new way to operate. Maintain focus on this new way and do not allow a gradual decline back to the old ways. While thinking about the new way, also be thinking about yet better ways. When an issue arises such as a suggested improvement, a new way of working, a new tool or a new output requirement, review the first 4 S's and make changes as appropriate.

Recently the industry has also added the 6th S for safety. If you would like additional information on this subject, visit

Lean Manufacturing