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The 5 "S" approach to Lean Manufacturing: Extended Entry

Improving quality, reducing costs, and improving safety are all key concerns for anyone who works for a manufacturing company or other organization. Many companies implement lean manufacturing in order to reduce excess wastes that occur within a company.

What is lean manufacturing?
Lean manufacturing is often referred to as lean production or just "lean". It was developed in the early 1900's as a method to reduce waste while producing goods. Taiichi Ohno and Eiji Toyoda are given credit for developing the Toyota Production System (TPS) which is known as lean manufacturing. The TPS system was developed between 1948 and 1975. Ironically the idea for lean manufacturing came to Toyoda when he was in a supermarket. He observed the simple idea of creating an automatic drink re-supplier, when a customer wants a drink he takes it and it is replaced with another.

Toyota defines waste as being three-form, muri (overburden), mura (inconsistency), and muda (eliminate waste). Muri or overburden is considered to be all the unreasonable work that management assigns upon workers and machines due to poor organization. Some examples of muri are carrying heavy weights, dangerous tasks (behavior-based safety issues), and working at a significantly faster than normal pace. Muri defines this work as pushing a person or machine to a pace beyond their normal limits. Muri is associated with the preparation or planning phase of the production process.

Mura or inconsistency focuses on the implementation and elimination of fluctuation of scheduling. This usually falls to the operations level to schedule the quality and volume of the production process. Finally, muda or waste elimination is dealt with after the process is completed. Management oversees muda and should consider how to eliminate the deeper causes of muda formed in muri and mura. Once the causes are determined, management will then use them in the next project and slowly begin eliminating all waste together.

Helpful Resources:
5S Use in Manufacturing
This web site discusses the 5 "s" approach to use in lean manufacturing. It provides a definition of each of the 5 "s" and how you can implement them into your business to reduce waste and costs.

Implementing the 5S Process
This article discusses the 5 "s" process. It provides a brief definition of the 5 "s" process and how to implement it in your business. You can also contact this company for consulting help with the 5 "s" method.

Definition of the 5S's
Wikipedia provides a great definition about the 5 "s" approach to manufacturing and running your business. They discuss a brief definition about each "s" and what you can do to implement them into your business plan.

7 Manufacturing Wastes
This web site discusses the 7 manufacturing wastes. It provides information on how you can reduce or eliminate the wastes from your company. You can also sign up with this consulting company to learn how to reduce waste from your company.

Toyota and Lean Manufacturing
This web site provides information on lean manufacturing and how Taichii Ohno created it for Toyota. It is an excellent web site if you want to learn about the wastes identified by many companies including individuals like Henry Ford and Eli Whitney.

Overview of Lean Manufacturing
This is another excellent definition of lean manufacturing. It provides you with an overview of the lean manufacturing concepts and provides you with links to consulting companies who may be able to help.

Definition of Lean Manufacturing

This is a simple definition of lean manufacturing. It provides you with several forms of waste and what you can do to implement lean principles into your organization to reduce waste.

Definition of the 5S's

This web site provides you with a great definition about the 5S's. You can learn what each S stands for and how to properly implement the 5S system into your business to produce results.

Implementing the 5S Approach
This web site discusses the 5S approach and how you can implement it into your lean manufacturing process. It provides you with checklists and forms you can use when you are implementing the 5S system.

5S Approach
This web site discusses the 5S approach and how you can implement it into your six sigma business method. You can read about what each of the 5S's mean and find tips on how to use it in your business setting.

What is the 5 "s" approach to lean manufacturing?
The 5 "s" approach to lean manufacturing derives from five Japanese words that begin with `s'. The 5 "s" approach was created to simplify your work environment, reduce waste and improve safety, quality, and efficiency. The five words are: Sort (Seiri), Set in Order (Seiton), Shine (Seiso), Standardize (Seiketsu), and Sustain (Shitsuke). Let's begin with Sort (Seiri).

Sort (Seiri)

This is the first S. It focuses on eliminating unnecessary items from the workplace. This is when you sort through all the tools and materials in the work environment and eliminate the unused ones. You will keep only used tools. Quite often this process is known as red tagging. A red tag is placed on all the items that are not needed to complete your job. If you do not discard the items, you will move them to a holding area. The reason for this is to evaluate the red tag items for future use. Some used items are moved to a warehousing facility while other items may be discarded.Sorting eliminates broken tools, obsolete materials, and raw scrap materials. This allows you to free up valuable space.

Set In Order (Seiton)
This is the second S. Set in order focuses on effective storage methods and efficiency. Set in order is often called straighten because it is the process of arranging tools and equipment after a manner that promotes effective work flow. There are a few questions you need to ask yourself when you are implementing set in order:

  • What tools do I need in order to effectively do my job?

  • - Where should the tools I need be kept?

  • - How many of these tools do I need in order to do my job?

Some strategies for set in order include outlining work areas and locations, painting floors, modular shelving and cabinets, and shadow boards. Think about how having a designated "cleaning closet" will save you time when you are looking for a broom or a mop. By having a designated area for everything, you will eliminate wasted time by your employees as they search for items.

Shine (Seiso) or sweeping.
After you have followed set in order and sort, the next s is shine or sweeping. The clutter and junk should be eliminated by this point and the next process is to thoroughly clean the work environment. The workplace needs to be kept clean and neat in order to be efficient. Daily follow-up cleaning will be necessary in order to maintain the improvement levels you have set in place. Daily cleaning will be a part of the work required, not just an occasional activity when the work environment is too messy. Your workers should take pride in a clean and clutter-free work environment. The shine or sweeping step will create ownership to your employees for their area and the equipment they use. The shine phase will also unveil underlying problems such as leaks, broken equipment, fatigue, contamination, vibration, and misalignment. Obviously if these small problems go unnoticed, it could lead to larger problems such as equipment failure and loss of production. In the end, it will affect your bottom line.

Standardize (Seiketsu)
This means that everyone must know their role. The fourth s concentrates on making employees practice the best standardized rules for their area. The employees can be involved in the development of these standardized rules because they are valuable for the information they deal with on a day to day basis.In the end, everyone should know exactly what their job responsibilities are and they should know exactly how to perform them.

Sustain (Shitsuke)
This refers to maintaining and reviewing standards. This is the most difficult s to implement and achieve. Implementing change is hard for many individuals to accept. More often than not, change will occur for a small time period and people will revert back to their old ways, where they feel comfortable. Once you have established the first four s's, they are the new way of operating. You must put steps in place to avoid a gradual decline of the new rules to adjust back to the old way of operating. If an issue does arise, such as a suggested improvement or a new way of operating, then a review of the first four s's is appropriate. Just remember that you need to define the new operating system and set standards so that the workplace stays organized and avoids reverting to old behaviors.

How the 5S's have been implemented.
Several large companies have implemented the 5S's. It has been adopted into several companies in the hope to improve the overall performance and productivity of the business. Some notable companies include; Hewlett-Packard Support Center, Boise Cascade and Boeing. Some of the results these companies achieved are as follows:

  • A reduction in call time and training cycles.

  • - A reduction in stored parts inventory.

  • - Improved productivity, morale, levels of quality, and safety.

  • - A reduction in incident rates.

  • - A reduction in machine downtime.

Quite often the 5S's have been implemented with the Toyota Production System, or "Just in Time" manufacturing. Originally lean manufacturing was called "just in time". This changed to the term lean manufacturing and it is now called TPS. Many credit Toyota for having a human touch to their automation process. They are given this credit because their production machines have enough intelligence to recognize when they are working abnormally and they have a system that flags themselves for needing human attention. This means that humans only have to focus on the abnormal, fault, or conditions versus the normal production. It removes the day-to-day routine element that causes disinterest in many humans, therefore causing defects to occur.

In the end, lean manufacturing is "focused on getting the right things, to the right place, at the right time, and in the right quantity to achieve perfect work flow while minimizing waste and being flexible and able to change." The concepts of lean manufacturing need to be understood, embraces, and appreciated by the employees who build the products. If the employees do the concepts, they will pass them onto the entire process and deliver the value to the product. Management is again the biggest factor in lean manufacturing.

Successful implementation will expose the quality problems which exist within the company and you will identify how to reduce the waste the problems are causing. For some companies, the focus on waste reduction only looks at one small problem at a time instead of a system-wide approach. Depending upon which type of managers you have, both approaches can be successful and both will reduce or eliminate waste.

Weak management will not understand how to implement the tools of lean manufacturing or the 5S approach and it will not benefit anyone. Lean manufacturing is simple to understand and easy to do. It is all about making the work simple, easy to manage, and understandable for the employees. The same is true for the 5S approach. If you are hesitant about implementing the 5S approach on your own, there are several consulting companies you can contact to help you properly organize and execute it.

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