Job Instruction and 5S

Last week, I was in a location that implemented a Job Instruction program in the laboratory. We were actually there for an assessment, but often, the conversation came back to Job Instruction. Why? Because the Job Breakdown Sheet (JBS) captures the current known standard and when you are making a judgment, you need a known standard to hold that judgment against.

For example, during the 5S assessment, we were talking about some documentation, manuals, papers, etc. that were well organized. Since a good standard was in place, the conversation gradual moved towards what the next improvement might be. Our judgment then, was that the area had good standards, but needed to move to the next level of organization and improvement. A question arose about point-of-use storage of his equipment manuals.

As we talked the problem through, the lab tech said this: “Look, I want to put all of these manuals together in one location away from the workstation because I don’t use them unless there is a failure. But with 5S we are taught to use point-of-use. I don’t use the manuals to do the job. That is captured on my JBS. So, if I move the manuals to a central location, I can decentralize the things I need, supplies for example – and move those things I really need to the point of use.”

When asked how he came to this conclusion, he offered a surprising answer:

“When I’m training a person using the JBS, I know I need the supply, but because I don’t have a spot for it, I have to go and retrieve it during the middle of training. It should be right here where we use it every time we do the job. Isn’t that a better utilization of the space?”

I couldn’t agree more!

There are two “Get Ready” points in Job Instruction that are not covered in a standard 10 hr session. The first is Get Ready Point #3:

“Get Everything Ready in the Area. Do you have the right equipment, materials, supplies, tools and information?”

Sounds like the basic 1S level of Sorting. Are we able to determine what is needed? Do we determine usage of materials? Is the information we need complete and accurate? These are good 1S sorting level questions to ask.

The second Get Ready point that is not covered in a standard JI session is #4:

“Have the workplace properly organized and standardized. Just the way the person will be expected to operate and maintain it.”

Sound familiar? 5S overlaps so many things. This Get Ready point brings us further into the 5S world, making us consider the 2, 3 and 4S levels. But what we were experiencing in this assessment however, was someone operating within an element of the 5S level: continuous improvement and standardization of the solutions. After all, we are told in Ohno’s Workplace Management that the real meaning of the 5th S: “sustain”, really means to teach. In the context of lean, we are looking to teach self discipline and improvement.

The Job Breakdown Sheet plays a critical role in all of this: a snapshot of the standard. More critical however, is the self discipline to maintain those standards and to open our eyes to waste that violates our own rules. It requires enormous amounts of energy for everyone in the organization to motivate themselves to do this. The most important part of the JI/5S equation is that management assumes a leadership role to learn and then teach the critical skills of seeing waste, problem solving and standardization. The last part of the puzzle is to follow up in order to motivate people on an ongoing basis to constantly be practicing these simple skills.

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