5S – It Sounds so Easy

Whether you’ve attended a Lean manufacturing class, read a book or just found information about the 5s process online you likely got excited about the ability to improve your business or facility.  The 5s system seems so very easy when you first hear about it, and it really makes a lot of sense.  The difficulty, however, begins when you start to figure out how to implement this type of system.  Whether you are a business owner or are in charge of a particular plant, implementing these types of changes can be difficult and even confusing.

Unlike many other manufacturing techniques, a company is never really done implementing the 5s or lean strategies.  It is a process of constant and continuous improvement and change so you can keep up in an ever changing world.  One of the biggest things you need to learn about improving your facility in this way is that as long as you are implementing strategies according to the Lean 5s guidelines, you are making positive change in your long term implementation.

Quick Wins

When it comes to any type of change in the way a business works you should always try to implement quick and simple things first so people will gain confidence in your plan.  Most facilities will have many different areas which can be quickly improved when using the 5s or Lean standards so making these changes immediately is a great way to show that the system works.  You can then move on to more difficult changes with the backing of management and the support of the employees because they know that your proposals are effective.

Understanding Your Business is Different

It is also important to realize that while the 5s and Lean strategies will give you a good foundation to build on, you can’t expect them to give you all the answers.  Since every business is a little different it is impossible to make a list of changes which can be made for every business to be effective.  That’s why the Lean 5s strategies are guidelines which can be used by virtually any industry.  Learning how to implement them in your specific facility will take work on your part.

Taking the time to look at every process that is done in your facility and then learning to apply the standards used in lean 5s will help you to figure out what you can do to help your business.  Just make sure you take the time to work with everyone involved in any task to ensure you have all the necessary input.  You can then compare the ideas you’ve come up with against the standards to see if they will be effective toward moving you to a more lean 5s compliant facility.

The Work is Never Done

It may seem disheartening at first, but you will never be done improving your facility.  Even companies who achieve lean 5s certifications still have to be constantly looking for additional ways to improve their processes.  The day when you feel like you are running as efficiently and safely as is possible is the day when you should step back and let someone else manage your 5s standardization implementation process.

Additional Resources