5S effectiveness

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    Hello. 5S is part of Six Sigma training.
    Question : How important 5S to the succees of a project ?
    My understanding is 5S is critical to people who deal a lot with tooling to do setup or places like garage and  store room. Good 5S practice will allow high efficiency for tasks to be carried out.
    However, my observation tells me many organizations mis-used 5S.
    All people are trained in 5S. Enforcement happen to all people, places and departments. Every engineer is responsible to certain areas to the extent that no dust is allowed. I am questioning on the bottom line results ($$) with this type of enforcement. Couldn’t we use engineers for more value added job to contribute to bottom line of a company ?
    Your comments please.



    I took training with the Six Sigma Academy years ago and I can say that 5S was not part of my training. It’s part of Lean, not Six Sigma.



    People make a big mistake when they view these tools in isolation of each other.  We need to stop thinking “Kaizen? Lean? Six Sigma?” and start thinking more about “solving business problems.”  For example, if you have a welding operation that’s a pigpen and a safety hazard with high variation, the first thing you should do is 5S regardless if you classify it as a Six Sigma or Lean tool.
    If you’re just beginning Lean or Six Sigma, the best first step is 5S.  If you’ve been at Lean or Six Sigma for 10 years, the best next step is 5S.
    5S is one of those things that’s “simple to teach but very difficult to learn.”  Kind of like teaching your kids how to clean their rooms.
    Good Luck



    I guess my take on it is a little of all.  The 5S is typically under the Lean umbrella, but in most good programs so should 6sigma.  As far as how important is 5S to a six sigma project I would beg to say not much importance to the success.  However the training you took for Six Sigma sounds like it was good.  A BB should not just know stats but also be able to change the landscape of their business and make it profitable.  So on that line the only thing I can offer is a true story.  In an old plant of mine we had a Plant Manager from Ford come in and visit.  He was impressed with the cleanliness of our plant, but our quality wasn’t the same level as our competitor.  It was close, but they were a better product.  However, their plant was not practicing the 5S and we were.  So his recommendation based on this and other observations was that we are heading in the right direction and putting an effort to improve.  The program was awarded and we increased our sales and went from being on the chopping block to a lead plant in the division.
    Take it for what its worth, 5S makes a first impression on the customer and Six Sigma can be misused.  Most business is based on impression of the operation and not on a piece of paper. 



    Good point, Terry. But I’m focused on transactional quality and hence, 5S has little value to the Six Sigma toolset in that case. Maybe that’s why it wasn’t included in my training — it’s typically not the issue and business isn’t awarded as a result of having clean and orderly work environments.


    Prof P Thareja

    This poem may help you with 5-S learning:
    Say so!   5-S is next colleagues satisfaction
    Alike, as being in household, hospital or a manufacturing scene,
    It elevates up the people’ morale if all scenario is green;
    A tool potent to target for high productivity and quality to glean,
    symbiosing attributes, which are worthy of no targets mean.
    The Japanese rules of such housekeeping encompass 5 S’s.
    as Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, Shitsuke jointly present a thesis,
    duly integrating lean, serene and green manufacturing basics;
    on obviating confusion and redundancies, these lay emphasis,
    “There is no despite in small labor” believed Mahatma Gandhi,
    ‘Each cleanse one’s own workplace’, for all-sheeny community,
    Now to shoot; attempt first to Sort, the late night scrolls in Rule ‘Seiri’,
    Enable marshalling wastes fully, warily evaluating their recyclability.
    Designating definitive places, removing chaos to inverse of Tons;
    By assigning tags or tools to identified locales; The ‘S’ is Seiton!
    Seiso Says so! Spic and span sets in a mood after its implementation.
    In obviating time redundancies, safety risks, is a universal solution.
    Let all dynamic content be relubricated, corrosion products removed!
    ‘Transparency to TPM’, when a journey as Seiketsu is epilogued,
    Complete empowerment to workmen, includes factors implicit,
    Make high quality living a habit, and improve hygiene very bit.
    A way of life, in harmony with neighbors, each clamoring to relay,
    Is what ‘Shitsuke’ advocates, when 5-S system continues to play,
    A bright scenario as this brings out every disorder for introspection,
    And sets in a process of ‘next’ colleagues high customer satisfaction.
      © 2002  Priyavrat Thareja
    [email protected]



    Terry hit the nail on the head.  SS is heavy into standardization of process variation.  5S is the beginning of standardization.  If your machine is dirty, the variation is likely to increase.  If your tools are missplaced, the repair time will increase, thus the variation is increased.  If your desk is messy, it takes longer to find what you need, thus the variation increases.  Without 5S, SS will not work.  Without 5S Lean will not work.
    It is unfortunate that you training was so lax.



    5S, is a great technique to get the buy in of the people actually doing the work. We all know how important that is. I agree we need to use the right tool for the right job, not just because we are doing 6 Sigma, or lean or what ever. Many times in 6 Sigma the work is doing by a select group of individuals, and the workers want to be part of the overall process of making their company better, there is no better way than 5S. Besides it helps build up the moral of the people in the area. When you area is clean and uncluttered you just feel better about what you are doing.



    My opinion is that 5S should be used as a tool to improve certain problems (requires many different tools at one time) at certain areas (store, maintenance room, garage..). Ofcourse, without 5S it is hard for a company to achieve real Lean.
    I disagree with many organizations where they launched 5S plant-wide. Every person is assigned a specific area of responsibility include engineers. You can see them cleaning, sweeping and mopping every now and then because they will be somebody coming to audit. For goodness sake, with a few more cleaner hired, they can shine the entire factory. I just don’t see them understand 5S concept well enough. To them, 5S is purely clean and tidy. To me, it means a lot more to certain groups not everybody. Ofcourse, no body would like to see a messy office and I do not think an organization need to launch 5S just because to tidy up the office. A memorandum send out will be enough, in this case.
    5S has been overblown by many organizations.



    Well said!!!
    The other VERY key point to 5S:  It drives discipline!
    Like every other process in Lean, Six Sigma, a business process, manufacturing process, etc., they ALL require a disciplined approach.  IF 5S cannot be followed, how can any company expect to follow the Six Sigma process?  OR how can any other process be learned and followed if the simplest cannot be learned, understood, and sustained?


    Om Prakash

    5S is basically learning how to manage oneself in any organisation.
    After birth we learn to eat, drink, clean, dress and behave properly.  Once in a while it is enforced on us during the childhood. When we grow we carry forward the learnings though no one is there to superwise. We do get up early in the morning, we do avoid fast food, we do dress decently, we do take bath every morning even if the water is cold and make sure that we are clean. This we do even if we are extremly busy or rise to any high post. Just for example most highly placed leaders/ officials are extremly self disciplned e.g. Sonia Gandhi (India)  does morning yoga, Ms Rice (USA) does her morning gym exercises even if she is travelling. This is when the cost of there time is too valuable and is not measurable. Basically the point which I want to drive is that the outlook of a person changes by the habits which he/she has acquired, and others who look at him/her find it easy to emulate  or follow when told to do so.
    5S is something similar in approach. It is true that engineer’s time is more expensive than that of a peon who can do the same task at a fraction of the cost. Yet practicing of 5S is important for each individual to change his/her attitude towards the work. 
    My personal experience is that the person who is good at 5S is found to be well organised and good at his work as well.
    Om Prakash,
    Manager R&D
    Otis Elevator Co I Ltd


    Mike Nordenstrom

    I wouldn’t dedicate specific people to specific areas.  Make every person responsible for their areas ( workstation, desk, etc.).  Then you only need people to walk around and audit weekly, monthly or whatever.  Remember the key to 5S is that anyone should be able to distinguish between normal and abnormal conditions.  You don’t need an engineer for that. 



    I have never thought of 5S as only applying to physical objects in a work environment.
    It seems to apply  to database structure and data, programs, work processes, and zookeepers. 5S is an attitude toward anything we manage.
    Taken to an extreme 5S approaches the economic concept of optimization.


    Chad Taylor

    LD, Nicely put! And to add to it, 5S never ends in an organization.


    Steven Bonacorsi

    Hello Om Prakash,
    Bravo response. I believe most would agree that 5s is a fundamentally principle underlying the entire Lean concepts. As mentioned by Terry, it’s a no brainer – must do. Recently, one of my MBB consulting teams was onsite at a customer site that had the worst bathroom they had ever seen. It was like a contest by employees over not being the first to clean up everyone else’s mess (making that part up but it seemed that way). Customers shared this same bathroom everyday. What an embarrassment.
    As Chad points out – 5s never ends in an organization – working without 5s usually leads to a predictable outcome – a mess to be cleaned up over and over again.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Steven Bonacorsi

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