a doubt, we are always learning, or... better said, we are always receiving
opportunities to learn. Not everyone takes advantage of that fact and that is
what makes a difference in our professional development and results. Lean
manufacturing requires this thinking style from us. We must conform to it in
order to have significant achievements that will give us a satisfying return on
the efforts invested. So, let us wide-open our minds.
of the main problems we were facing in a recent project I took at a furniture
factory was the excess of work-in-process (WIP) inventory. As we know in the
lean manufacturing environment, that can be anywhere from some waste to a
devastating situation. We had already achieved very good results from the basic
5S implementation. Most areas were looking really good and even the most
apathetic associates had to recognize the big difference produced in the ten
weeks devoted to 5S and continuous improvement.
though was still one of my biggest concerns. Here is where the light bulb
glowed! Use the first S – sort -- in a wider meaning, to establish what
belongs and what does not in the area. Create the clear concept in everyone’s
mind that only the materials, subassemblies, or parts that are acceptable and
complete, and possible to process in the next two hours should be in the area,
5S discipline is magnificent and flexible-adaptable to any situation and can
really be of help whatever the circumstances.
of the main reasons why the “kits” of parts would remain untouched in the
different assembly areas was the very frequent case of missing components. The
(internal) supplier would deliver those kits to be counted in the
“productivity” of his department even when one or more missing pieces would
make it impossible to assemble them.
correct interpretation of the first S was clear: If it is not complete, it is
not a kit, and therefore can’t be delivered to the customer. This applies also
to defective or non-conforming parts. They simply do not belong in the area!
this concept farther, the principles of jidoka, autonomous quality or quality at
the source will come in handy as reasons for each workstation not to accept any
non-conforming part or subassembly to work on it, neither will it pass to the
next workstation. Again, they do not belong in the workstation if they are not
good enough. An expedited correction process is necessary to make the kits,
parts, sub-assemblies or any other components comply with specs and be ready for
the next step.
we see, just some mindset adjustment and the expansion of the meaning in a
simple and well learned discipline makes a great difference here. We reinforce
the belief, show the example, widen the understanding and create the right
behavior, ownership, empowerment, and leadership.
us become creative 5S proponents and we will find better opportunities and
applications all the time!