Organisation is half the battle: the launch of 5S

At some time or other just about everyone has misplaced their keys or some other object at home and been very annoyed about the amount of time they lost trying to find them. But do they automatically change something to stop this happening in the future?

This kind of thing happens every day at all sorts of workplaces, and at Imbach too. We want to change this and with Leancom we have found an expert partner to help us on our way. At the end of March 2017, we launched a 12 week project of change in mechanical processing in the area of CNC turning. The project team is composed of employees, section heads/line managers and senior executives. We want to use the 5S methodology to illustrate and eliminate waste of all kinds in the workplace.

5S is a systematic way of obtaining efficient processes in five steps with order, cleanliness and standardisation. With this Japanese methodology, waste at work is reduced with a parallel increase in productivity. Safety at work, employee satisfaction and transparency are also increased at the same time. The 5S methodology forms the basis for many further improvements. 5S is not a one-off project but a methodical procedure to continually improve as an employee and to improve the workplace in a constantly repeated cycle.

The first phase of the change project involved training and the sensitising of the employees. The second phase entailed documenting the current state of affairs at CNC turning machines and this in fact enabled the employees to experience what change actually means regarding themselves. It means letting go of lots of unnecessary things that have collected over the years at your workplace and that are totally unnecessary for getting your work done on a daily basis. The project group hears comments from employees on a regular basis including: "I just can't work without this tool, aid, system etc." How often a tool is used is a deciding factor when it comes to positioning it at the workplace. It goes without saying that a tool that is used every day is not going to occupy the same spot as a tool that is used perhaps only once a month.

The employees of the CNC turning section will go through the five steps of the 5S methodology by the end of June 2017 and discard lots of unnecessary paths and work steps, decide on fixed positions for particular tools and define new standards in the workplace.

The human factor is crucial for successful implementation. People have to have an understanding of change and several people often have different ways of looking at things. One of Albert Einstein's very quotable quotes is, for example: "If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign." But in a production environment, you do not really need a host of brilliant people but employees who can eliminate waste in the workplace with good solutions.

Our expert Partner, Leancom GmbH