Monday, November 24, 2014

Shining is to Make Problems Obvious!

This is a guest post by Julien Dépelteau from Flexpipe, a modular system to build material handling solutions.

With clutter gone and the storage area organized, the next step is to properly and thoroughly clean and paint equipment and work areas. This step is critical as a way of sustaining the improvements begun in the Sort and Set phases.

Initial painting and cleaning requires a blitz task outside regular working hours, but after that a daily routine should be established. The entire team should participate in cleaning - but make sure that every team has adequate cleaning supplies and equipment; this is not a task for a special janitorial crew.

Lean 5S shine

Now that my present work is in an assembly plant, it is much easier to keep the work areas clean compared to my previous job, a welding plant where cutting, welding and painting resulted in dust, grease and sometimes paint powder coating on equipment. In 2010, they were getting very involved in lean manufacturing/5S culture.

Each employee had 10 minutes at every shift (used with a signal) to clean their work area, including sweeping and washing equipment used. Lights were bright and often cleaned from dust; floors were marked with tape and polished and the air system was in proper condition (very important in this industry!). Back then and still to this day, people (suppliers, employees, and clients) talk about how clean the factory is.

When I started working for my previous employer in 2006, we would do everything in our power to avoid a client's visit. Even if our finished products were good quality, a quick visit could wind up going bad.

Four years later, we would do the exact opposite!

A tour would help convince clients that we built good quality products and on time. Clean welding machines and shiny painting equipment gave a good impression. (It was not just an impression.) This was also a selling point when we would attract new welders... and good welders were hard to find! They would tour the plant and leave the interview thinking it was a pleasant, safe and well-run environment. (Again, it was not just perception!)

  • Shining will provide a more comfortable and pleasant environment.
  • Shining will keep a workplace safe and easy to work in.
  • Shining will encourage good quality production.
  • Shining will increase ownership of the organization's goals and vision.
  • Shining will prevent machinery and equipment deterioration.
  • Shining will be used as inspection (leaks, vibrations, breakages, and misalignments).
  • Shining is to make problems obvious!

Flexpipe can build shadow boards and other 5S tools such as custom workstations, roller racks or carts. A modular material handling system made of pipes and joints; Flexpipe helps companies move forward in a lean journey.


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