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Tools for 5S Lean Manufacturing

By Joel Bradbury

Tools for 5S Lean Manufacturing

The 5S System is a lean manufacturing tool that helps to clean and organize the workplace, as well as improve how things are done through standardization. This can be accomplished with the five following steps:

  • Sort: Remove unneeded and obsolete items from the workplace.
  • Set in Order: Organize each area in the workplace based on how work is done.
  • Shine: Clean your workplace, tools, and equipment to restore them to their original condition.
  • Standardize: Improve how work is done by creating procedures that ensure work is done consistently and efficiently.
  • Sustain: Make 5S part of your daily routine by repeating each step on a daily basis.

While these steps are clear and can be implemented without major upfront costs, there are some helpful tools for 5S lean manufacturing that can make the process easier. These tools include process tools, 5S checklists, and visual communication tools like labeling and floor marking supplies.

Process Tools

There are numerous process tools that can help make implementing 5S successful, including Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) and 5 Whys.

Plan-Do-Check-Act
Process tools like PDCA help implement 5S successfully.

Plan-Do-Check-Act

PDCA is an organized approach to problem-solving. This helpful tool can help make your 5S implementation more meaningful by ensuring improvements, from Sort to Standardize, address issues in your workplace. PDCA includes four important steps: 

Plan: In this first step, workers identify an area that needs improvement then they develop a plan with workers from other areas that may be affected by any change.

Do: Implement the plan in a pilot area so it does not disrupt the workplace. Keep track of what has been done and its impact.

Check: Review the change and its impact. Did the change yield the expected results? Did it impact any areas or processes that were not supposed to be affected?

Act: If the change yields an improvement, begin incorporating it throughout the business—one area at a time. If the improvement does not work in other areas, restart at the Plan phase for those areas.

PDCA is a powerful counterpart of the 5S system because it ensures that each step in the 5S process is applied to address specific problems. Workers won’t simply begin removing tools and organizing equipment without first creating a plan to ensure the change will be positive. Each change will help make work easier, reduce costs, and improve quality throughout the workplace.

5 Whys

Another process tool that can help you in your 5S journey is called 5 Whys. 5 Whys help workers find the root cause of a problem and address it. This is especially beneficial because it helps workers avoid a common challenge when solving problems: focusing on surface-level issues that, when addressed, won’t solve the problem.

5 Whys help workers accomplish this because it requires workers to ask “why” until a problem’s root cause is discovered. Using this tool to support 5S helps ensure that problems are fixed the first time.

Begin implementing the 5S System in your workplace today to improve efficiency, increase quality, and reduce costs. Learn how with a Guide to 5S. This helpful resource provides information to help educate your workforce as well as practical application tools that you can use immediately.

5s Checklists and Charts
Keep your 5S program focused by using checklists and charts.

5S Checklists

In addition to process tools, you will need other tools to help support your 5S system. These tools include checklists and charts. Some common checklists that can help keep your program focused include:

5S Audit Checklists: An audit checklist can help keep your program on task by making it easy to track improvements and areas that can use additional improvements. Each department should make its own checklist to best meet its needs.

Trend Charts: These charts show trends in data over time. Trend charts help managers keep track of changes in processes, outputs, and much more. These charts can help you quickly identify areas or processes that need to be improved, as well as processes that will need to be improved in the future.

Preventive Maintenance Checklists: Preventive maintenance is what keeps operations running smoothly without excessive downtime. Using a preventive maintenance checklist ensures that maintenance is done on time and new maintenance requirements are addressed.

5S Visual Communication Tools

A successful 5S program requires effective visual communication, which includes the following:

Procedural Label
Promote organization by using labels to identify items and areas.
  • Labels for storage bins, shelving, and tools will help workers identify items and put them back where they belong.
  • Procedure Labels can communicate procedural changes and help workers complete tasks correctly, every time.

Support your 5S program with clear, effective visual communication. Create labels and signs you need to keep a business operating efficiently with DuraLabel industrial label and sign printers by Graphic Products.

Communicate essential information about improvements and future changes with Echo large-format printer and enlarger by Graphic Products. Use the built in enlarger to create high-impact spreadsheets, flowcharts, and meeting minutes, ensuring your workforce stays up-to-date as the workplace continues to improve.

Related Topics

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