In today’s competitive business environment it is important for manufacturers to find new ways of streamlining operations. To do this, industry leaders from around the globe are embracing lean manufacturing strategies. These strategies are centered around the idea of eliminating waste and saving money. This is all done by establishing a business culture focused on continuous improvement.
One of the most popular lean continuous improvement strategies is the “5S” workplace organizational methodology. Initially developed by Toyota, the 5S system soon found life throughout the global manufacturing industry as an amazing way to reduce waste.
The 5S system is one of the foundations of the Kaizen philosophy, which is based on continuous improvement through guiding principles like ‘good processes bring good results’ and working together as a team. Through using these principles and the 5S structure manufacturers will start to see their business run more efficiently.
One of the many ways a manufacturer can benefit from 5S is in employee safety. With an focus focus on workplace tidiness and standardization of factory processes, employees will have a better understanding of equipment and what their limitations are. 5S also focuses on keeping equipment clean and properly inspected, while it may be more work at first, spotting a faulty piece of machinery right away will dramatically drop a factory’s employee injury rate. Safety isn’t the only area that will see improvement though.
With the 5S structure in place and being properly used, manufacturing employees can more easily spot inconsistencies in a production line and report them to management. Employee engagement will also go up if time is allocated for gathering input from employees at every level of the company. Asking employees what they think could be done to help them work more efficiently will not only help find solutions, but it also helps everyone feel as if they play a larger role the business. This isn’t just to appease the workforce, they actually are playing a more important role throughout the business because those closest to the action will have the most valuable input into what can be done to improve.
One of the biggest benefits a manufacturer will see is an almost immediate boost in efficiency as processes begin to be streamlined. Since 5S has a strong focus on eliminating waste, it is not hard to see why streamlining is a large part of the system. The first S in 5S is sort, which involves employees going to their workstation and taking away anything that is not essential to the operation. Through this simple step, anything that could potentially be holding a manufacturing business back will be instantly addressed. While the initial payout may be small it won’t be long until all of the seemingly inconsequential changes begin add up.
The Kaizen philosophy has continually proven to be one of the most effective lean strategies. This methodology is one that embraces a minimalist approach to ensure no time is wasted. Patience is key in the 5S structure, results will most likely not be immediate but through continued hard work and analytics successes, manufacturers will create a more effective and efficient business through and through.