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Lean Housekeeping Part 1 – Sort, Set in order and Shine

To have an organised and efficiently running factory, we need to know that everything has a place, is in that place and is clean and ready for use – this is the basic premiss for the Lean manufacturing tools we use to implement good housekeeping; 5S.

5S is a systematic approach to good housekeeping. While there are many interpretations of the original Toyota definitions (there is even more than one Japanese version) the principles behind the stages are still the same.  Here we will look at the first three “S”’s – the “doing” part of the process and in the next article we will focus on the “sustaining” our housekeeping efforts.

Whether you are beginning 5S or revitalising, chose an area and set aside some time (3 hours at least) to go through the first three stages:

1. Sort –  go through everything; throw away rubbish, archive old stuff you may need, decide what you need in that area on a daily and weekly basis. Everything else must be removed. Sentiment can not play a part here – this is a manufacturing environment

2. Set in Order – take the items you need in that area on a daily or weekly basis and find the best homes for them; label, mark locations, colour code – make it clear to anyone entering the area what should be where

3.  Shine  & Clean – as you are setting a location for each item, give it a wipe and check it is is good working order. Any broken item needs to be fixed. If your working area is particularly dirty, more time needs to be set aside so a thorough clean can be completed.

These first three steps will get you well on your way to visually improving your factory. And when our factories look better, our people feel better about working in them – suddenly there is more space to move and those little annoying things are easier to find.

The challenge is to continue to maintain this new level of organisation. This is where the “Standardisation” and “Sustaining” come into play, which we will delve into in our next article.

Until then, continue Sorting….

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