Hugh Brawley and I ran a 5S event this week in Glasgow. In two days we turned a shambolic production area into something much tidier and more organised – filling three skips in the process. At first, the 5S team in this long established business found it hard to get to grips with the concept and purpose of 5S. Staff were a little suspicious of us and why we were there, but they got really engaged once they started to see improvements – and recognised the benefits for themselves. It was great to see people from all the departments of the business working together.
There were major health and safety benefits too as we removed a lot of flammable material and created clear marked walkways through the factory area to the fire escapes. We also audited first aid kits and made some recommendations.
Two days is not a great deal of time and we did not get a chance to do any 5S work in the office and sales areas. 5S is a good first step in lean but there is plenty more that could be done – for example in this business’ case, the next logical step would be to improve the process flow by mapping the Value Stream and gathering data to identify bottlenecks and improve throughput. Then we could start to engage people in real continuous improvement.