Sustaining 5S

Most companies don’t find it too difficult to implement the first three stages of 5S / workplace organisation, but many find it hard to sustain and improve once the initial energy has dissipated. I recently heard one plant manager joke that his company had achieved 15S – they’d repeated the first 3S’s five times now! So a couple of tips:

Provide awareness training to everyone involved. Emphasise that 5S is not housekeeping – it’s about making everyone’s job easier and more efficient.

Set an example – start with the plant manager or Managing Director. Demonstrate that Top Level Commitment.

Standardise: get the people who work in the area to agree the minimum standard that they can guarantee to sustain. This might be pretty basic to start with – a few years ago the foremen at an engineering client agreed on “no coffee cups on the floor” as a starting point – it took them three months to consistently achieve this standard!

Sustain: agree basic standards (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, etc) for each area. Set up regular weekly or monthly audits. Go for peer audit: Department A audits Department B; Department B audits Department C, etc. Meet reguarly to review the results, root cause problem areas and implement permanent system / process fixes.

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