How to Implement Lean Manufacturing: Straighten and See (5S) – Part 1

Rick Bohan

You’ve finished with the Sort and Shine across your plant (or nearly so).  You’ve been working for awhile and the plant looks a lot better doesn’t it?  Just as important, you’re finding that it’s being sustained pretty well.  A few glitches here and there and, gosh knows, you’ve needed to stay on top of things, but overall the picture is good.

Workplace organization is fundamental to any lean manufacturing implementation.

Congratulations…but now comes the harder phase: Straighten and See.  It’s not that this phase is any harder, per se, to carry out than the first one was.  It’s just that there’s more to it.  The first phase was Sort…then Shine.  This phase is…find a place for everything (and that might mean buying or fabricating places to put some things) including the stuff that moves through the area like work in process , mark and label the place where you put it, implement other visuals like communications boards, schedule boards, metrics boards, and develop all the procedures for making sure the right stuff is in the right place at the right time.  See what I mean?  There’s more to it.  So, we’d better get started.

Getting Ready

The first thing you need to do is to educate everyone as to what this phase is all about.  And that it will be a lot of work.  Get the area teams together and talk over the objectives of Straighten and See as well as the steps you’ll take to implement the phase.  Emphasize that it’s the second phase of the Green Dot program.  In that regard, the teams will be expected to have a schedule for implementing Straighten and See location by location in their areas and that the self-reviews will continue.  If you didn’t show the teams the FastCap video before the first phase, you should show it now.  Even if you did, it can’t hurt to show it again.

You’ll need to provide each team with a map.  They’re going to use it to indicate where everything will go. (No, they don’t have to list  every tool and part that will go into that cabinet but they do need to indicate the cabinet on the map and give at least a general idea of what will go in it.)

OK, the teams have been motivated and educated, they have their maps and their schedules…they’re ready to go.

The Map

Remember that map the teams used to identify the areas and locations that they would Sort and Shine?  They’re going to need another copy and this time, they’ll need to do some doodling on them.  They’ll need to indicate, on their maps, where everything will go.  Often plant maps show existing machines, equipment, and other facilities.

Have them, first, make sure that everything about the existing map is correct.  I’ve worked with clients at which the first few weeks were spent simply updating the maps themselves.  Updating plant maps usually doesn’t have a high priority and lots of changes may have been made.  Make sure the maps are up to date.

Once the maps are updated, it’s time to have the teams modify them to show where everything is going to go.  In many cases, this might mean just indicating on the map where the shelves and cabinets and other storage are presently situated.  In other cases, the team will need to do some brainstorming and planning as to where new storage and locations will be.  Where are we going to install that shadow board with the changeover tools on it?  Where, precisely, will the scrap bins be put at each machine?  Where will the metrics boards and the schedule boards go?

I’ve found that getting the teams (or the supervisor or whoever) to actually complete these maps takes some doing. It’s not that hard for them to actually complete but it tends to be another thing on their “to do” list and one that falls pretty far down on the list of priorities.  I don’t like to put it this way but…someone is probably going to need to make them do it.  As in, “Get the maps done by this date…or else!”

The Schedule

The Straighten and See Schedule is pretty much just an extended Sort and Shine Schedule extended.  In other words, keep the same schedule of days and times, but instead of Sorting and Shining, the teams will be marking and labeling home addresses and putting everything where it needs to go.


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