Apr 23, 2010

Are you tracking 5S properly?

Jon Miller of Gemba Panta Rei fielded a question this week about tracking a 5S "program." Jon raised a few questions of his own for those who may be relying on 5S as the keystone of their lean effort:

1. What is the purpose of the 5S program?  You need to ask some "why"s about 5S in your operation. Is it merely good housekeeping, or a means to better safety or visual management? Or something else? You can't track what you don't understand.
2. How do we measure success of the 5S program? What's important right now and in the future to your reason for practicing 5S?
3. Based on this, what are we trying to track? From how clean is clean, to how committed employees are, what progress are we making and how do we know when we're there?

Jon goes on to explain what he sees as the importance of 5S and making measurement part of on-the-scene leader daily management.

Added to Jon's observations, which I will leave up to you to read, are several comments from Chris, Tim, Steve, and Pedro about how they have kept a finger on the pulse of 5S implementations in their experiences.

All in all, a quick thought starter for your next visit to the plant floor, because you will, of course, do that every day.

1 comment:

Mark Welch said...

I think one of the easiest mistakes to make when embarking on 5S is to lose sight of the purpose - the first item listed in this post. 5S principles/tools exist to serve those implementing them - not to stand alone as a separate program or to satisfy the criteria of an audit. The measures can be many - reduced inventory in $ and space; reduced searching time; improved quality by having the right tool/materials on hand as needed, which also improves safety.

Having been part of a misguided 5S effort in manufacturing, which focused on meeting minimum audit scores based on plant-wide criteria, I'd do it much differently today. It would be more utilitarian. Any audits would be more along the lines of asking questions, such as, "Can you find X tool when you need it? Where is it? How is the current system working for you? What changes would make it better for you?"

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