5S as a Vehicle for Organizational Development
By Rafael M. Pefianco MPM FAAPM
Are you looking for a proven and structured program that will help your employees develop the attitude of always looking for ways to keep the workplace neat and tidy and to always look for ways to do things better, faster and cheaper?
Are you also looking for ways to start reducing your costs and increasing productivity?
Implementing a Five S (5S) program in your organization is a very good way to start.
Considering that our ASEAN neighbors are able to enter the Philippine market now tariff free and compete with our local products with cheaper goods and services, isn’t it a good idea to get better organized, reduce waste and avoid unnecessary costs anywhere we can?
This is where 5S can really help you remain competitive and become more profitable.
What is 5S?
5S as a system was developed in Japan. It was first heard of as one of the techniques used by Japanese manufacturers to achieve what is now referred to as “Just in Time Manufacturing”. James Womack, author of “Lean Thinking”, says of 5S,“eliminating waste and creating value requires a systematic approach and attention to detail.”
The 5Ss are derived from 5 Japanese words for practices leading to a clean and manageable work area. These words translate into English as:
Sort – Have only items you need at hand. If an item is not needed immediately or soon, store it somewhere else or get rid of it all together.
Straighten – Create a permanent place for everything and keep everything in its place.
Shine – Clean up the workplace regularly and look for ways to keep it clean.
Standardize – Standardize means creating a method for maintaining order and cleanliness. This step is critical to 5S. Without a clear standard, understood and accepted by all stake holders, there can be no way to create accountability, monitor adherence or make improvements. The standard must be known and practiced in order for 5S to be an effective process.
Sustain – Create a regular audit system that will ensure that S1 to S4 are maintained and sustained.
Table needs 5S
RMP at Coral Bay Nickel with drum storage during 5S training
Workstation before 5S with RMP
Workstation after 5S by RMP
Isn’t 5S just about cleaning and good housekeeping?
A good 5S program is a lot more than just regular cleaning and good housekeeping. In practice, 5S is the first part of executing a process improvement program. This is done in both manufacturing and service industries.
The first 3Ss of Straighten, Shine and Standardize is probably familiar to many of us who have worked in industry. I remember that when I was a young engineer training in a factory in Germany, we always started the day with cleaning up our workstations. We ended the day with also cleaning up our workplace. So, there seems to be no difference in that respect.
Where is the difference? The difference lies in that the Japanese approach put a structure around cleaning and housekeeping and then they kept improving on it until it contributed to their competitive advantage. The short version of this is that 5S helped them stop wasting time looking for things they needed. In turn this helped them reduce their cost and deliver faster.
In his book “Gemba Kaizen”, Masaaki Imai says 5S is one of the 3 pillars of gemba kaizen in the common sense, low-cost approach to improvement. While 5S may not seem very exciting in the beginning, once managers understand the implications of this concept they will become excited at the prospect of the benefits that 5S can bring.
Raffy Pefianco of RMP Consultancy at the 5S Champions Conference of the AboitizPower Group held last 10 October 2014 at the Makban Geothermal Plant.
How do I use 5S to improve my business?
Let’s say, for example, that you want to be able to deliver quicker and better than your competitor. Where would you start?
5S will help you clean up and to remove all the clutter in the workplace. After the initial clean up, you will begin to see where time is wasted. You will see the materials and tools that are not needed and are only getting in the way of production.
You will also begin to see opportunities for visual management that will help your employees work faster and avoid making costly mistakes.
Maintaining your Competitive Advantage through 5S
After the initial clean up, 5S can help you maintain your competitive advantage. 5S provides a regular audit system that will help you maintain high levels of productivity. 5S will help you develop your company standards for where the things your employees need should be stored and how they are to be cleaned and maintained so that they are always available. The end result should be avoiding waste as much as possible and reducing your cost to deliver.
5S is a very simple and yet powerful tool that you can easily implement right away. The principles underlying a Five S program at first appear to be simple, obvious common sense. And they are. However, many companies still ignore these basic principles and are missing a great opportunity to increase their productivity.
The benefits of 5S were first realized in manufacturing and industrial operations. However, the benefits learned there are now being applied in all kinds of businesses, from retail stores to distribution businesses, from private to government offices. All types of businesses and all areas within a business, will realize benefits from implementing a 5S program. RMP Consultancy has worked with insurance companies, mining companies, distribution companies, manufacturing companies and power plants to implement their 5S programs. Give us a call and we can discuss how we can implement 5S in your organization.
About the Author
Rafael M. Pefianco MPM FAAPM
Rafael M. Pefianco is a highly trained Mechanical Engineer. He has managed warehouses and distribution businesses for many years. He is an International Trainer whose passion is to enable Filipino professionals to reach world class levels by sharing the insights he has gathered working and teaching abroad and in the Philippines. He is a Master Project Manager and a Fellow of the American Academyy of Project Management. Please click [Background of Raffy Pefianco] to read more about him.
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