Learning to See Waste in the Genba with 5S

Lots of Lean pros spend countless (well, we are counting) hours in training people about the wastes in manufacturing. Despite how much mainstream Lean training expounds the value of learning to see waste in your work, many people are still blind to it.

In the newest Shingo book, Kaizen and The Art of Scientific Thinking, Shingo talks about comparison and the division of “things”, as a way to compare and move to the next levels of problem solving. The whole thing is a little abstract, but there are some practical applications of comparing two things to arrive at conclusions. One example comes to mind: the standards between two machines. To illustrate this example, look at the following pictures – can you see the differences?

This is a tough photo hunt! Fortunately it is easier to compare things in our gemba. Often, with two machines in the gemba that SHOULD be the same, we unfortunately find that they are not. The reasons for this non-standardization are many, but the simple fact remains. Machines that should be the same should actually be the same. Anything other than that is bound to produce waste. This is a simple concept you can teach people on the shop floor. Grab a digital camera and compare two machines, two processes, two methods, two areas, etc. Here is an example:

Do you see the difference? What is the frequency of lubrication? Which one is right? Are we using the right grease? All kinds of questions are made by simply comparing two things. Often we can arrive at simple improvements through kaizen teian (suggestion) systems using these simple 5S comparison methods.

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