26, January 2017

Gaining Productivity Through Workplace Organization Using 5S Methodology

One of the recent 2-day kaizen events that I facilitated included improving the warehouse operations at a manufacturing facility.  This was a hands-on project and we got rid of obsolete items and consolidated many partially filled boxes of products which resulted in 50% more storage space.  This, in combination with the reconfiguration of warehouse layout and adding of surplus rack system from a sister company resulted in a net increase of close to 70% in warehouse storage capacity.  This helped the company to avoid building an addition to the warehouse which was estimated to cost about $100,000.

The improved warehouse layout and storage allocations had other benefits as well, one of which was labor costs saving.  Based on sample observations and through estimates, the operator time wasted looking for and placing products was drastically reduced.  This translated into an annual labor cost saving of about $30,000.

Another kaizen event that I facilitated was organizing the assembly tools area at a packaging machinery manufacturer.  Getting rid of the obsolete items and consolidation of many partially filled boxes of supplies, hardware, and misplaced tools provided 65% more storage spaces on the racks.  As a result, two of the racks were moved out of the area making floor space available for other activities. 

Based on the estimates and through sample observations as well as feedback from the assembly operators and the area supervisor, the search and retrieval time per visit was reduced by more than five (5) minutes.  This also included the number of incidents where operators noted tools they had picked up and brought to their workstation were not working properly and had to make another trip to locate and bring a working tool. 

The resulting financial impacts from space saving was not that drastic.  However, the cost savings resulting from reduced search time for tools and supplies proved to be sizable for the size of such operations.  A conservative estimate of such time savings was more than 1,850 hours per year.  Do the math - how much does 1,850 hours worth to your company?

What Do These Two Kaizen Events Had In Common?

5S methodology was used to organize the warehouse in the first company I mentioned above and the assembly tool area in the second company.  So what is this 5S?

5S is the name of a workplace organization methodology that uses a list of five words which are Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, and sustain.  5S applications is not limited to just manufacturing but can be used in many other any work environments including, but not limited to offices.  5Ss is the foundation for many productivity improvement initiatives

A workplace that is clean, organized, orderly, and pleasant is the foundation for all other improvement activities resulting in fewer accidents, improved efficiency, improved quality, and workplace control and therefore can lead to reducing waste and cost.  Like other lean tools, if implemented correctly, 5S also instills ownership of the process in employees. 

 Adopting 5S for your Organization

At its core, the mantra of 5S is simple: “A place for everything and everything in its place.”  Once implemented, 5S reduces waste of human time and energy; reduces waste of excess inventory; and can reduce the number of defective products.  It might take some time and energy to organize and implement, but the benefits are vast.  For more information about Impact Dakota services, including training related to and applications of 5S and other lean tools, click here.

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