Lean Manufacturing with 5S

5S for Lean Manufacturing

5S is an element of Lean Manufacturing, providing workers and managers alike with a visually simple, logical system to organize work areas in both office and manufacturing environments.

The goal of 5S is to ‘streamline’ the business and manufacturing plant, enhancing both worker focus and safety. Another benefit, for those bean counters in your midst, is a positive influence on a company’s bottom line, or earning potential.

5S simply stands for the 5 steps (or pillars) of organizing the workplace. The five phases of 5S are: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. Integral to Lean Manufacturing, which was successfully pioneered by the Toyota company of Japan, this system is now successfully utilized worldwide in many industrial settings, including food processing.

After thoroughly completing each step, you will have a workspace free from clutter and organized in a way that allows employees to work efficiently. Organizations also find their 5S efforts are enhanced when implemented with other elements of Lean manufacturing.

5S, Kanban, and Kaizen

5S Lean manufacturing kanban bins labels

If your workers employ the five S’s in their work areas and feel empowered through the kaizen system of improvement, it will be easy for them to also use kanban. A cleaner, more organized workplace where everyone is on the lookout for ways to improve can more easily use the cards and bins of kanban without any hiccups. These tools won’t get lost or overlooked as frequently as they might in a disorganized workspace.

Another concept borrowed from the Japanese that can be used along with kanban is the 5S program. The five S’s are simple and commonsense principles for running a business. By using them you can provide your employees with an effective system that maintains cleanliness, visual order, organization, and standardization. This will improve your business while also empowering your employees to be more efficient and to pay close attention to service and safety. Those things combined will lead to a better work environment and increase in profits.

5S and Just in Time Manufacturing

One other concept worth noting is the JIT or ‘“Just in Time” approach to management. This approach focuses on removing extra inventory from the production process. Kanban is a tool that allows you to get the materials you need in time for use. The system will prevent you from having excess materials lying around; instead you will have them when you need them, “just in time” to meet your production needs.

By using these methods there will be enough time to refill one bin before the previous bin is completely empty so there is never a lag in materials. It becomes a cycle of refilling stock just in time without too much extra inventory, or a lack thereof. Some factories keep an extra bin for fluctuations in supply, but with properly managed calculations there is little need for the extra bin.




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