Connection between 5S and Lean

In order to have a good understanding how 5S and lean concepts are connected, is important to first take a look at them separately. 5S is a way of measuring the implementation of lean manufacturing techniques. It is the foundation which is used to support lean manufacturing strategies from the beginning until full implementation. Lean manufacturing, on the other hand, is a set of ideas used to describe the ideal way to streamline the production and manufacturing processes in any facility. Every activity which goes on in a facility can, and should, have a lean way of doing it.

Both of these methodologies are used to help improve the way business is done, and to reduce all types of waste. While they are dependent on each other, they are still quite unique in the approach which is taken when being implemented. When thinking about how to improve a particular process, for example, it is important to use lean strategies to identify waste and figure out how to eliminate it. Identifying the waste, however, can be done best using the 5S’s.

Step by Step

Start out with sorting the whole process to see where it will take place. Analyzing the workplace to find out what is needed for the production process, and what is extra, or waste. Eliminating anything that isn’t necessary for that specific step will result in less waste, and a leaner way of doing the job.

Going through the manufacturing process it is easy to see how the next S, straighten, can be used to make the process leaner. Rather than having a part move from one area to another and then back again during the assembly, it is less wasteful to try to combine steps, or ensure that each step is as close to the others as possible. This eliminates the waste associated with transporting the products back and forth throughout the facility. The more streamlined the manufacturing is, the less waste there will be.

As people in the facility go through the next two S’s in the 5S system, the process will become even more streamlined and more waste will be eliminated. The less waste there is, the leaner the process can be said to be. It is in this way that lean manufacturing and 5S are connected and closely related. One of them is used to improve the other in a mutually beneficially way. While some people will try to use either 5S or Lean concepts to improve a facility, that will make it much more difficult. There is no reason to re-invent the wheel, when these two complimentary processes are already proven methods for eliminating waste.

The final S in the 5S program is for sustain, which means to keep the cycle of improvement going. This is, of course, essential for the long term success of any facility. It is also going to provide for continuous identification and elimination of waste. As more and more waste is eliminated, the processes can be said to be becoming leaner over time. This is, of course, the goal of any lean manufacturing facility.

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