Standardizing Waste using 5S
I've railed on mainstream 5S programs for quite sometime now. Thanks for enduring this. The latest travesty was the 5S article in the Wall Street Journal. A lot of companies are making a good go of 5S and visualizing their workplaces, indicating that some folks are taking the genba kaizen to the next level.
The following example though illustrates how we still get caught up in doing 5S without really thinking about WASTE FREE standardization. Take a simple thing found in the the genba - a machine gauge.
Look at the following picture. The gauges do the same thing on different machines. The genba people did a GREAT job of visualizing the ranges on each gauge. But what is the problem here? What questions do you have? Is this waste free standardization? How hard would it be to train someone if many things in the workplace are in a similar non-standardized condition? Which one is correct? Is one process making better product then the other? Is this truly a stable process?
5S is NOT housekeeping. The area this picture was taken was very clean and well kept. So this group had moved beyond the basic cleaning level of 5S: this picture illustrates that the genba people were really thinking about how to make their job easier by knowing the condition of the machine. Cleaning is the basic easy level of 5S, this visualization is another level up. But when our standardization is not waste free, we will have a problem moving beyond the 3S level.
So, the next question our leaders have to ask these people FIRST: is this gauge reading important to the quality of the operation? If not, don't mark it, it so then we have more questions to ask. What is the failure point if the system isn't operating within range? What should the operation range be? How does this affect the operation? Is it in the correct range now? What should you do if it runs out of range?
So many questions that go beyond visualization, yet the visual factory should answer these questions for us.