The Secret Drawer

May 14, 2010

I’m sure you have run into a similar story while performing a 5S event. We were working in a tool crib at a small job shop trying to get it organized when we discovered the “Secret Drawer” during the “Sort” phase of 5S.

There were many cabinets with tooling stashed away in this little room. Some items seemed to be categorized, but it was readily apparent that these categories were scattered throughout the room. While the team was busy 5S Red Tagging items and moving them to the 5S Red Tag Holding area, one of the drawers seemed a little different. After clearing it out, it still was heavier than an empty drawer should be. Upon closer examination, it was discovered that a piece of wood at the bottom of the drawer was covering up something. The other drawers had pieces of plywood on the bottom in an attempt to protect the drawers and tools, but this one seemed odd. Upon prying it up it, we saw a bunch of unused tooling (“Geometric thread chasers” for use in a die head typically used for outside diameter threading applications). We found about 30 perfectly good sets. Each set probably was worth about $50-$70 per set or about $1,500-$2,250 total.

The part I found very interesting is that one of the employees said that these must have been here for 15-20 years and nobody knew about them! When I asked why these were here the answers I got included: “We probably got a good deal on them when we bought them” and “I think these were overstock.” Of course, the tools are now obsolete for this company; they don’t even use tooling like this anymore. Another observation when I asked why were these hidden under the piece of plywood; no one on the team could come up with an answer.

How much of a “good deal” was it when they are hidden away and no one knows about it? They have been taking up space in this cabinet for 15 years and no one knew about them. That money could have been spent on something that they could have actually used instead. By the way, we found about $20,000 dollars worth of tooling (at original cost) that was red tagged.

Buying things because “we got a good deal on them” is not always a good deal.

Do you have any good “Secret Drawer” stories that you would like to share? Let me know. Thanks – Tony

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