What is 5S?
5S is an integral part of Lean Management, which may be helpful in reorganising work in a way that makes it less time-consuming and more enjoyable. It is a set of simple techniques and methods, which if applied correctly, impact the effectiveness of work and the time required to perform work-related tasks. It is closely related to the appropriate organisation of the work environment, improvement of organisational culture and the rise of effectiveness of processes realized within the company. Often the task we perform in an appropriate way, which is the best way we know, may be easily improved – admits Mariusz Szymocha, Partner and Project Manager at ASD Consulting. As a result of implementing 5S the existing routine is no longer valid. It is worth noticing that an increased efficiency is not achieved by an increase in the efforts and work volumes. Interestingly, the 5S techniques can be used outside work – at home, in the garage, basement and everywhere else, where something interesting is taking place, which can be done faster and more efficiently.
The 5S strategy is based on following the rules contained in 5 steps. An advantage of implementing 5S successfully is becoming aware of the benefits of each of them. It's particularly important as the success of the whole process depends on the actual engagement of the employees. The better the workers get to know and understand the 5S rules, the better their efficiency will become.
Step 1 - sorting
Sorting consists of eliminating from the work circle all the tools and devices that are unnecessary for a given station. Piles of documents gathered on a desk which are not used up-to-date are a common problem related to office work. Inappropriately utilised computer systems, discs and unnecessary data is another source of wastage.
To carry out the sorting in an efficient way, all materials and tools should be selected in accordance with the three basic criteria: necessary, maybe necessary, unnecessary. The first group of objects should be placed on the work station and in the IT systems used every day. The materials and tools that may be useful in the future should be archived, stored and when needed - handed directly to the persons or the departments interested. The third group of materials goes in the bin. That way the work station will get organised quickly and effectively.
An office is a place of storing many objects 'just in case' – admits Mariusz Szymocha. Whereas in reality most objects can be shared. Such simple tools as punchers, rulers, scissors or binders over time generate a significant increase in administration costs. 5S seminars on selection often unearth wastage in costs, which set the imagination going.
Data regarding storing unnecessary files in IT systems is also interesting. Usually a few drives with high capacity find a new use thanks to sorting. In this way the costs of purchasing additional equipment are avoided. In addition, selection in the office area, meaning at the work station, in the room and in IT systems impacts the work ergonomics and shortens the access time to materials and data.
According to research carried out by Sedlak & Sedlak in July this year, so much as 69 percent of respondents admitted that they waste time at work using the internet for private purposes. The feeling of wasting time is related to the effect of the so called 'short day'. Employees are not able to complete all of the allocated tasks within the 8 working hours.
With a slight dose of optimism it may be said that a reasonably realised selection would influence the outcome of the research carried out. If all the tasks were completed during the 8 hours, the 69 per cent would say that thanks to 5S they learn online while at work – says Mariusz Szymocha jokingly.
Step 2 - systematics
The next step in the 5S implementation process is systematics. It's worth remembering that while working at the office we often create a team with other people. To improve communication between workers the work space should be organised in such a way so that all the labels on documents are understandable to everybody. In that aspect visual management may be helpful. Its aim is the presentation of work rules, of the status of current tasks as well as the capability to control work stations in a way that makes all information clear and does not require asking additional questions. To make labels understandable to everyone, various signs, labels, colours, arrows and lines are used. What is the importance of it? There's no need to engage other workers in, for instance, looking for documents, which helps avoid wastage during working hours. In addition, an easy and clear access to necessary materials or tools decreases the time needed to find them, take them and use them.
An example of using visual management in practice may be for example binders, which are market with a oblique green line while sat on the shelf. The colour determines the group of documents the binders belongs to. Breaking the line by taking a binder out helps easily identify the lack of documents in their right place. In addition, the line will make it easier to return the binder in its place without the need to read additional descriptions of the documents and a long consideration on their place on the shelf. Reading markings that are clear to everybody, we spare time related to browsing unlabelled files.
In case of IT environment, the time of access to data we are interested it depends on the right system of catalogue names and of files and contents. IT systems optimisation is especially important because every year the time dedicated to this environment is growing. Mariusz Szymocha's experience in implementing 5S systems lets us assume that current unoptimised sectors may be hiding even up to two hours of the daily time budget for a given position.
The two steps above are only the beginning of implementing the 5S system. You will be able to find out about the next ones in the second part of the article.