We at 5S Supply join the world in sorrow over the devastation resulting from the January 12th earthquake in Haiti. Of course, the first inclination was to send a monetary donation but we wanted to try to be a little more creative with a contribution. Seeing that the need is great for any type of supplies and they are in the “supply” business, the thought was to look through our own 5S Red Tag Holding Area and see what could be sent for the relief efforts. We also searched for products from our “Shine” items (the third “S” in 5S) to help with the clean-up.
5S Supply will be sending buckets, scrub brushes, sponges, spray bottles, wipes and other items that they hope can make cleaning and rebuilding easier. Director of Customer Care, Jennifer Molski noted, “We have the supplies and sending them to Haiti is a perfect fit. This country had little before this disaster and now they have nothing.”

The team at 5S Supply hopes the modest donation may make a small dent in the clean up efforts. 5S Supply encourages others in the industry to consider sending similar provisions. Every little bit helps. Our prayers and healing thoughts are with everyone affected by this disaster.

While working with a team two weeks ago on Value Stream Mapping, I had a few discoveries that I never seen before. I probably have done over 100 Value Stream Maps with client over the years and I am still amazed at the power of VSM. Basically, we were creating a new program that had some elements of their old system that needed improvement and some completely new processes.

There were three things that I did this time that I never did before in a VSM event. Don’t get me wrong, I am a stickler for the sanctity of Value Stream Mapping, but I have found that every once in a while you can create something new to make the VSM successfully fit the organization.

VSM Satellite Icon1. I had to use an icon that I never used before – a satellite. I know that this is electronic information and is symbolized by the line with a “zig-zag” in it. But as you know, one of the main uses of a VSM is to visually communicate the value stream. In this case it seemed very applicable since we needed to visually convey that ships at sea were communicating via satellite with the land-based entities.

2. This organization was also preparing itself to become ISO 9001 compliant. In order to help this client out, they requested that we put measures or metrics next to our process boxes to show how they VSM Measures Iconwould know if that process was operating effectively and efficiently. This was the first time anyone asked me to do this for ISO. So we created a data box that look like a ruler labeled “Measures”. The team then listed measures that they thought would be a good indicator of the process and how they would know if they were improving over time. Now that’s good quality planning!

3. The third thing we did was to use Kaizen Bursts (Improvements) on a SIPOC (Supplier-Input-Process-Output-Customer) diagram. One of the things of being a good facilitator means knowing what tool to use when. This was a complex project covering many groups internally and externally. The team requested that we created a SIPOC diagram for a couple of new systems. While we were creating the diagrams the team members asked if we could put Kiazen Bursts on areas that they already knew needed improvement.

I like that I can continue to learn new things and find uses for value stream maps that are a custom fit for an organization.

Let me know your thought.

Thanks – Tony

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Why are 5S Red Tags Red?

January 18, 2010

I was just on the phone recently with a good friend of mine, John Calabrese from the Arizona MEP (Manufacturing Extension Partnership) Center, while he was at a client and that had this question “Do 5S tags have to be red?”

I have heard this question several times before during 5S Events while performing the first “S” – Sort. Traditionally 5S tags are red. The red color gets your attention that the item may not belong in that immediate work area. You fill out a tag, attach it to the item and move the item to a 5S Red Tag Holding Area. As Hiroyuki Hirano explains it in one of the best books on 5S “5 Pillars of the Visual Workplace

Why use the color red? First of all, red is conspicuous. Second, red is the color of stoplights. Finally, the Japanese word for “red” also means “dirt.”

This question mostly comes up because a company already uses red tags to identify parts for “QC Hold” or “Reject” and they don’t want to confuse their workers on what a red tag means.

But, back to John’s question, the quick answer is “no”. 5S Red Tags do not have to be red. They could be any color you want. During one 5S Event the company insisted on using 5S Purple Tags so their employees wouldn’t get them confused with their red QC (Quality Control) tags. I thought that this was strange, because they didn’t want their employees to be perplexed about what a red tag stood for. But how would they explain that during Sort they would be using purple 5S Red Tags? Now that sounds confusing to me.

Some organizations use certain color tags to represent specific things. For instance, it is common to see yellow tags for maintenance issues or white tags for safety issues. It is imperative that a company have a standard and stick with it.

The more I wrestled with this, the more bimodal my thoughts became. Should I be thinking “What do I care what color tag they use, as long as they use them effectively?” Or, should I take a stand and say “Hey, it is called 5S Red Tagging for a reason – because the tags are red!”

I would like to know your thoughts on this – Should 5S tags be red?

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I was reflecting on the news of the earthquake in Haiti this week. One of the major things reported was the lack of coordinated relief efforts at this point in time. This made me think back to when I was a young Quality Control Supervisor at a company where my boss, the Director of Operations, put me in charge of our rapid response/disaster recovery cart. The intent was that this cart could be wheeled out and has the items for management to respond to a situation like a spill or other facility emergency.

The first thing I had to do was find out where this cart was located. Being new, I didn’t even know we had one. Secondly, I had to get the key to be able to unlock it. Now with the key in hand and the location of where it was at, I set off to find it to see what I was up against. After going to the area of the building that seldom gets traffic from humans, I located the cart in the corner buried under a pile of stuff. I freed it from its location and brought it to an area which actually had enough light and room for me to go through the cart. The previous “owner” of the cart did me a huge favor because I found an inventory list taped right to the door. What a relief, at least I now know what is supposed to be in there. I emptied the contents of the cart and compared it to the list. Fortunately, most of the items were present. A few items were missing. I was sure I would be able to get those replaced. What I did notice is that there were some walkie-talkies in the kit; but when I tried them the batteries were dead.

So before I really started to focus my life on Lean I can look back now and see that I applied many Lean principles to my thinking. First, I applied 5S to the cart. I went through and sorted things out. Then, I reorganized the items on the cart (Set-in-order) and even found a better location for it that I labeled. I cleaned up the cart and took care of those dead batteries (Shine). I could have stopped there and just have been happy that I found the cart. But I realized that I needed to do a little more. I decided that on a quarterly basis I needed to do a quick check (or audit) of the cart. Making sure everything was there and in good working order (Standardize). At this point the “Sustain” part became easy as long as I followed my standard of checking it quarterly.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this tragedy. I know that my 5S cart story woefully pales in comparison to what it happening now in Haiti. It is just a little thought on how 5S can make things easier for us in times of need.

As a corollary to this story, I was at my mother’s house in Florida taking

Repair Crew

care of her after she had hip surgery. That’s when hurricane Charley hit in August 2004. I can admit she wasn’t well prepared for a hurricane; she had moved to Florida a few years earlier from the Midwest and really didn’t think about it. We survived the hurricane o.k. and made the temporary repairs needed to patch up her house. When I returned home I made a kit for her (with recommended items from FEMA) so that she could be better prepared for a hurricane. I remind her in April every year to go and check the kit, make sure everything is there and in good working order.

“Audit Schmaudit”

January 12, 2010

As we are still in the throws of the New Year I thought it would be apropos to discuss 5S Auditing. Why you say? Because if we have a base-line assessment of where we are at, then it will make it easier to know where we have to go.

Here are some reasons why audits may not be as effective as they should be:

1. Audit scores are higher than they should be. People don’t really know how to audit effectively.
“I know we were a 40 last week, but I think we made great strides and are at an 80 now.”
2. It takes too much time.
“What do you want us to do, work or audit?”
3. The audits aren’t fair.
“The office people score higher than the shop floor.”
4. The scores don’t mean anything.
“They [management] don’t do anything with the results.”
5. It’s a form of “gotcha” or punishment.
“You didn’t put that back when you were done with it. That’s going cost you points.”

Sound familiar? I’m sure you either have seen or heard something like this or have experienced it yourself firsthand. Wait, you might be saying “Tony, we don’t even do audits.” For that I say, thanks for reading this far. Now let’s explore and effective 5S audit system.

Things to consider:

“Audit Schmaudit”
First of all, think about why you may need to do the audits in the first place. For mature 5S programs, auditing may not even be needed at all. Companies that are at the point were the system sustains itself might not even have 5S audits. These are the companies that don’t even have to use the term “5S” anymore as it has become part of their culture. So for the rest of us, auditing should be of value to help improve our 5S system.

Train the 5S Auditors
I have been to organizations that perform 5S audits and when I see their sheets or scores I wonder how effective is their auditing program in the first place? At this one facility I participated in some of the 5S audits and most of the areas scored about 20 on a scale of 100 (based on their audit sheets). One month later, I returned to see that the scores had jumped up tremendously to about 60-80 range. Wow! What an improvement! I was standing at their 5S Communication Board and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I couldn’t believe it because not much had changed since my last visit. Based on what I saw they still should have been in the 20-30 range. When I asked “How did this happen?” The mumbled responses included “The supervisors didn’t want to look bad” and “We know these scores weren’t right, but we posted them anyway.” Then I heard “I think we need to train our auditors.” Bingo!

So when we train people to be 5S auditors there are two things I want to make sure we accomplish: 1) that the individual auditor is consistent from audit-to-audit and 2) that the scores are consistent between auditors. I like to use the ISO Standard 19011 (International Organization for Standardization) as a model to train 5S auditors. Ask your quality professional for more information on that.

5S Audit Sheets
Do you already have an easy-to-use audit sheet? There are several types out there readily available on the internet, some for free and some you have to pay for. Did you just take the free one and copy it? That’s o.k., but I would recommend this very important lesson: “Standardize then Customize.” This means to standardize your audits sheets and then customize them to meet your needs. When I work with clients, I have a generic 5S Audit sheet that I bring in so they have a starting point. I’ll be the first to admit that it isn’t perfect and doesn’t fit all situations. But what I want them to do is use this as a learning tool to make their own audit sheets better.

Here are some audits sheets I have run across over the web that are free. I am not endorsing them, but I would like your feedback on what you think of them.

What I have come across in my years doing this is that for most organizations we can start with three main categories of audits sheets: 1) for office, 2) for manufacturing or plant floor, (for hospitals that would be labs, treatment rooms, etc.), and 3) storerooms or warehouses. The reason I say this is that for manufacturing you will see the words like “machines” or “equipment” and that isn’t always appropriate for office or warehouse functions.

Now for the grading or scoring part, I’m a big fan of using “Levels” and numeric scoring; meaning that we can progress through different levels of 5S. I like this because it shows improvement or progress, it helps to set goals, and we can tie Reward & Recognition in with it. Now one of the caveats of using this type of system is that judgment may come into play regarding how the auditor scores and area. Once again, I refer back to training your auditors for consistency. I have seen other types of audit sheets that have yes/no type scoring. For the most part, what I have seen are answers like this “Yes, they are doing it but…” or “No, they missed one thing so they get no credit at all.” One other thing I like to see on the audit sheets are room to make comments. I want the auditors to be engaged in what they are doing. Can they prove the score that they gave?

Make it Quick and Simple
Make sure not only the audit sheets are easy to use, but that the entire process is quick and easy. I’ve seen people spend more wasting time with their 5S audit system than it is worth (remember “muda”). They take more time entering data, printing out elaborate spreadsheets, analyzing every score to death. No wonder people think this is a waste of time. See how long you current audits take. Then try to cut the time in half, just like a good old kaizen event. At one company, their initial audits were taking about 30 minutes each and they had about 20 areas to cover. Now that’s a lot of time just on audits. I challenged them to streamline their process. On their first attempt they were able to get the audits down to 10 minutes each without loosing and effectiveness. Of course the next challenge is to see if they can reduce the amount of time again.

Do Something with the Results
Now that you have the audit scores, what are you going to do with them? Make them meaningful; help the area team leaders improve their 5S scores. You can tie Reward & Recognition into this process. Reward & Recognition is a complicated subject which we’ll save for another time. But one thing I want to say is that it doesn’t have to be costly. I liked one hospital lab’s approach to Reward & Recognition, they had the managers wash the cars of the people whose area that had the most improvement and the highest score. You can read more about this in “5S in Healthcare, One Labs Journey.

I hope this helps a little as you prepare for your best 5S year ever. Let me know what you think. Thanks – Tony

Since this is my first blog posting, I wanted to make sure to start this year off with something relevant and hopefully helpful. So here’s a quick list to get your 5S program moving on the right track for 2010. Whether you are beginning a 5S program or have a mature approach, these ideas will give your 5S system that little extra boost. This list is not all inclusive, but is meant to give you ideas to assist you as you start the New Year.

“People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.”

It is advisable to make sure that you have a well thought out plan for your 5S program this year. Going through the process will help you better prepare for improvement. Your plan can be as simple as a calendar marked with the dates of 5S Events, audits or even when you are going to disposition the 5S Red Tag Holding Area. A more developed plan may include your training schedule, communication channels and even your Reward & Recognition ideas. They key is to make the plan fit your organization. The better you plan, the better your results will be.

Think of ways you can help promote your 5S program and build on the 5th S – “Sustain”. Promoting your 5S program can include newsletters, posters, short meetings, and even contests. One of the best 5S contests I ever heard of was where the winners had their cars washed by the top management. People were really working hard to receive top honors just to see management out in the parking lot hand washing their cars. A short newsletter is a great way to help promote your 5S program. You can talk about what’s going on, upcoming events, audit scores, improvement ideas and more. It seems to work best if it is kept short. One or two pages may suffice; something that is easily read during a break. Keeping it short also means you don’t have to spend much time working on it. Don’t forget to put in pictures and you might want to mention people in the newsletter. They might like seeing their name in print. Print it out in color and make it look good. To make this much easier here are some free 5S Newsletter templates you can use.

Making sure you have what you need is essential to a well run 5S program. This comes in two forms: 1) having the correct items on hand for your 5S events, and 2) keeping consumable items at hand and ready to go after the event. To accomplish the first one, I recommend that you have a standardized 5S kit or cart. Stock it with the items you use most often during 5S events. This makes it much easier to prepare for the events and you don’t waste your time looking for things. The second item includes having 5S Red Tags out and available to everyone so that they can red tag anytime they want.

Lead by example. It seems hypocritical to ask people to keep their areas clear, organized, and clean when your desk, cube or office is not. Make sure you are leading the way. Get people involved with the 5S Events or sustaining the gains. A quick way to get people involved is a “5S Sustain Campaign” board. This board lists each of the 5S’s (Sort, Set-in-Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain), has a place for team members names to be assigned and a task to be performed. Examples of the tasks include:

• Sort – “Perform a 5S Red Tagging of the Area”
• Set-in-order – “Check Labels for continuing suitability”
• Shine – “Verify that Shine was performed properly”
• Standardize – “Perform a 5S audit of the area
• Sustain – “Host a short team meeting on 5S updates”

Get people on board with your 5S program. Put yourself in their shoes – WIIFM (what’s in it for me?). 5S isn’t meant to be a punishment; make it fun. Use Reward & Recognition to help get people energized about 5S. Find the kingpin, key players, influencers or most respected people in your organization and get them directly involved with 5S. Once other people see that they are involved (and like it!) it makes it easier to get other people involved. Another way to Reward & Recognize employees, teams or groups is to give them items like a 5S t-shirt, mug or hat. This will help keep 5S in front of them. I had one client say that he always wore his 5S t-shirt on Tuesdays and employees would ask him how they could get one. This really helped get more people involved with their 5S program.

When I started this list I didn’t mean for it to have all “P” words as the descriptions, it just turned out that way. Please don’t think I am trying to start a 5P movement! I hope you found this helpful and a jumping off point for your 5S program for 2010. Stay tuned for future posts with useful and helpful information.

Thanks – Tony

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