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Five Key Benefits of a 5S Program for Manufacturing

A brief introduction to 5S before we get into its benefits. It is a 5 step process that helps in creating a safe and organized workplace. It works best when everyone in the company gets involved, so it is ingrained into the organization’s culture from the top down.

The 5 steps are as follows:

  1. Sort: Remove unnecessary items from the workplace. Red Tag items that need to be dispositioned. 
  2. Straighten: Arranging materials according to usage. A place for everything and everything in its place. Clearly defined places work best, so it is impossible not to know where it goes.
  3. Standardize: Make the above 3 points easier to follow by all the employees in the company, Creating Visual Indicators, SOPs, Shadow Boards, etc. Make it easy to quickly spot abnormalities.
  4. Shine: Cleaning and Inspection – Maintaining the workplace without dust, Cleaning the machines daily, and fixing leakages and abnormalities.
  5. Sustain: Regular Audits, Rewards, and Recognitions for people who go above and beyond to help in sustaining the 5S. Always be looking to improve.

The benefits of 5S are far too extensive to list in this article, but these are some of the biggest areas of impact for us. The paint, coatings, and chemical industries have some specific, albeit not unique, challenges that 5S helps to address. Here are the top 5 in my eyes:

  1. Improved safety – A clean and organized workplace is a safer workplace. For us, this is paramount; even though we deal with hazardous materials constantly we have many years without a time-lost accident. 
  2. Improved quality – We have an exceptionally low scrap percentage, with all our raw materials having marked containers and designated locations (< .05%). This also leads to a more consistent product for our customers and fewer issues online.
  3. Improved efficiency – This one is obvious, but it is wonderful to spend more time producing and less time looking for things. 
  4. It looks and feels better – Most people agree it is more enjoyable to come to work when things are clean and organized, making us feel better and perform better.
  5. Get compliments instead of corrective actions from visits – Whenever we have visits from regulatory agencies or other entities that regularly tour facilities, we get overwhelming complimentary feedback about how clean and organized our plant is compared to others they have seen. When things are clean and organized, visits go more smoothly, thus resulting in less wasted time and effort dealing with corrective actions or fines.

In summary, you will get far more out of implementing 5S in your facility than you could ever imagine going into it. I know we have, and we continue to improve and see new benefits constantly. It is an ongoing process and part of our culture.

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