Ma intenance Matters
The Five S Methodology takes its origin from the Japanese concept of production methods. Known in Japan as Kaizen (“Kai” is good, continuous, and “Zen” means wisdom, change, improvement), and first launched by Toyota in the 1970s, Five S has since proved itself to be the best way for companies to apply innovations to the workplace, improve quality and become more productive ( Medinilla, 2014, p. 5). The core of this method is a systematic approach to organise and keep the workplace in the most effective and safest way ( Sarkar, 2006, p. 93). Teams own their production environment, taking care of their tools, sorting everything, standardising their work, streamlining activities, and enforcing team discipline through peer review ( Medinilla, 2014, p. 6).
In English the Five S Methodology stands for:
Sort – Sorting only the materials or inventory needed for each task at hand. It also makes the workplace safer by removing mess ( Cudney, Furterer and Dietrich, 2013, p. 81). One of the basics of this step is to use tagging for identification ( Cudney, Furterer and Dietrich, 2013, p. 81).
Straighten – Create an orderly workplace where everything has its place. Under this step all items are to be placed in the best location for point of use. This enhances quality by visually identifying all materials and creating a certain location for them ( Cudney, Furterer and Dietrich, 2013, p. 81).
Shine – Extreme efforts to keep a clean workplace for functionality. In this step the area should be thoroughly cleaned, which is significantly important because “a clean work environment promotes quality work” ( Cudney, Furterer and Dietrich, 2013, p. 81).
Standardise – Similar and controlled task assignments that are uniform. This step specifies frequency intervals to maintain, keep and improve a well-organised and clean work environment. It can be done by creating daily checklists for cleaning and organising ( Cudney, Furterer and Dietrich, 2013, p. 82).
Sustain – Safe manufacturing process policies. This tends to be the most difficult step to follow. It focuses on maintaining self-discipline and practicing 5S until it become a way of life. Management involvement is critical on this stage to sustain the success of implementing 5S ( Cudney, Furterer and Dietrich, 2013, p. 82).
For any business – especially manufacturing – to run effectively, the workplace has to be well organised. It saves time to process the orders, customers receive their order on time and, therefore, the image of the company improves and profit increases.
With regards to this, the Five S Methodology was applied to the Pick/Pack and Dispatch areas of the Laminex New Zealand warehouse, in order to reduce time wasted seeking materials and subsequent delays in shipping customer orders.
Laminex New Zealand is part of Fletcher Building’s (F.B.) Laminates and Panels Division. The company has factories in New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, the U.S.A, Canada, China, Finland, Spain and Thailand.
Before the implementation of Five S, key tools routinely went missing which caused delays in customers’ orders or took significantly more time to proceed than they should.
First, all the tools and equipment were sorted: red labels were used to label those items that were no longer needed and were a ‘waste’. Green labels were used for those items that were needed for further use.
Under straighten, places of allocation for remaining tools and equipment were identified. All of them were tagged and numbered. Under shine the place was cleaned extremely well. As for the last two steps of Five S ( standardise and sustain), now it is up to management of Laminex NZ to establish and approve the required policies and/or procedures and to ensure that all staff follow them consistently.
The workplace improvements at Laminex NZ were initiated by Peter Kelly, Operation Manager of Laminex. Nikhil Sharma, an intern at Laminex warehouse, was assigned the task. A student of CPIT, he applied his knowledge about Five S Methodology that he learned from senior lecturer Imran Ishrat, who is a tutor of Operations Management at CPIT.
• Cudney, E.A., Furterer, S. & Dietrich, D. (2013). Lean systems. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
• Medinilla, A. (2014). Agile Kaizen: managing continuous improvement far beyond retrospectives. Berlin, Germany: Springler.
• Sarkar, D. (2006). 5S for service organisation and offices: a lean look at improvements. Columbia, MO: ASQ Quality Press.
The author of this article would like to thank Peter Kelly and Imran Ishrat for this opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge to solve the real business problem, and DEMM Magazine for giving a chance for this article to see the light.