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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