At 5S Supply we strive to continuously introduce new and innovative products and services, so I am excited to tell you about one of our newest items – Magwear Magnetic Wristbands

This ingenious accessory will surely aid your Lean efforts by reducing walking waste, search time and help to keep needed items close at hand and at point-of-use.    

No need to hold screws, nails and bolts in your mouth (your dentist will surely be happy) pocket, or climb down the ladder to retrieve them.  Inside the rugged plastic caddy which measures approximately 3” x 3” and is ¾” deep, is an intensely powerful magnet which holds most metallic objects including screws, nails, and small tools.  You can even pile your hardware in layers.  Trust me it really works! 

The product adjusts to fit wrists of any size and is available in red or black.  It weighs just 4 ounces so it won’t weigh you down and can even be attached to your belt in case you might like to make a new fashion statement. 

Magwear has 1,000’s of uses and is appropriate for the shopfloor, assembly lines,maintenance work, constructions sites, autobody shops and even the office (staples, binder clips, tacs).  It’s also the perfect companion for any home improvement project and especially useful on ladders, under cars, in crawlspaces, while 5S’ing your garage and even sewing projects.  I know I will be wearing mine as I build a new deck in our backyard later this spring (all tips are welcome!) .

My favorite part about this new item is that it was another great idea from our Customer Care Manager, Jennifer Molski (she invented the 5S Sticky Tag and our popular 5S Pins).  At 5S Supply we try to inspire creativity and independent thinking in all of our employees and this is another fine example.  It is Jim Womack who reminds us that the embodiment of respect for employees is offering them the courage to try.  Thanks Jennifer, for trying!  And stay tuned as next month we will introduce a new Lean product created by one of our Customers! 

So stop going nuts looking for bolts (pun intended) and get your Magwear Magnetic Wristband today!  We are pleased to offer this product on sale for an introductory price of $15.95 (regular $17.95) and you can order it now or check out more information for Magwear

Let us know how you use your Magwear! – Tony

I am excited to talk about our upcoming 5S Benchmarking Survey. We hope that this will be the largest, most comprehensive study of 5S results ever created. The survey will be live starting May 1, 2011. We hope to get as many participants as possible.

Why a 5S Benchmarking Survey?

There are different views out there whether benchmarking has any value or should be done at all. I understand that and won’t delve into that discussion here. Let’s just say, I would like to see this 5S benchmarking survey add value for the participants and the lean community in general.

There are a handful of lean benchmarking surveys available. I’ve noticed that there are two main problems with them: 1) they cost money ($$$) to get the results or 2) it is a consulting firm that just wants to use the information internally. This is not one of those surveys; this survey is for you. This survey is a way to share best practices and be able to learn from your peers. 

5S seems to be one of those things in lean that people have a hard time doing. 5S is simple; getting people to do it is hard. I also have found that there are a wide variety of results regarding 5S. Worse yet, some people have a difficult time determining if they have had any level of success. When people apply other lean principles like quick changeover or standardized work, it is much easier to show real, tangible results (both quantitative and qualitative) in time or dollar savings. This survey will help us understand the benefits of 5S.

Many people agree that 5S is an integral part of becoming a lean organization. There are debates to the merit of focusing on 5S first or at all. To me, 5S goes far beyond the actual 5S principles of Sort, Set-in-order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. It sets the baseline for other enablers to create robust lean thinking including teamwork, discipline and improvement.

The Survey

We tried to look at it from the practitioners’ point-of-view. What would you want to know about other 5S programs so you could see where you could or needed to improve? The survey will be about 50 questions in length and will take about a half hour to complete. I understand that this is a big time commitment, but I think it is well worth it. Anyone that completes the survey can request a customized report that will show their rankings compared to others.

 The survey will be live the month of May. We hope to have enough participants so that the results are meaningful. We don’t want to leave the survey open too long because we want to analyze the data and prepare the results.

The Results

We will pour through the data gathered and create an informative report. This may take a little while so please be patient. We will share our findings with anyone that is interested. This is just a small way to give back to the lean community.


We hope you decide to participate and spread the word. The survey will be on our website soon and please feel free to forward a link to colleagues or lean thinkers in other organizations and industries. If you use Facebook, LinkedIn, have a blog or twitter we would appreciate the help extending the news.


This was my first time attending the Shingo Prize 2011 International Conference and I have to say that it was an outstanding experience from the speakers, to the sessions, seeing old friends, and the networking opportunities. I’ll hit some of the highlights.

Kelly Lacroix (SME), Tony Manos, Larry Anderson (Shingo), Tim Pettry (Shingo), Peter LaBonte (ASQ)

The main reason that I was at the conference was to be a representative for the Lean Certification Oversight and Appeals Committee for the American Society for Quality (http://www.asq.org/). Four of the world’s premier professional organizations have teamed up to bring the “gold standard” of Lean certifications – SME, AME, Shingo Prize and ASQ. Peter LaBonte from ASQ headquarters and I talked with many people about certifications and the benefits of ASQ. It was great to see such interest in the Lean Certification.

Dr Sami Bahri the "Lean Dentist"

The first session I attended was with Dr. Sami Bahri or you may know him as the Lean Dentist and author of “Follow the Learner” which just won the Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award.  What I really appreciated from his talk is that he mentioned that it took him 13 years on his Lean journey to get to where he is today. Now that is real commitment and understanding that Lean is never over.

Gary Peterson


It was great to see Gary Peterson, Vice President, Fulfillment Operations O.C. Tanner Company talking about creating a Lean Culture. Gary was gracious to help me out with an article last year called “Hoshin Promotion” for ASQ’s Six Sigma Forum Magazine. One of my favorite parts of his session is when he talked about when he had to apologize to one of the line workers and what a positive impact it had not only for the worker, but the entire department. He also mentioned that you want to create “People that can work shoulder-to-shoulder, even when they don’t see eye-to-eye.”

Zenji Kosaka

A highlight for me was to hear Zenji Kosaka speak (well, actually he spoke in Japanese and had an interpreter). He held managerial positions at Toyota Motor Corporation and was trained by Taichi Ohno and Shigeo Shingo. He talked about the rich history of Toyota which many of us have already heard or read, but what I liked about his presentation is that he kept bringing us back to the core, most fundamental concepts of the Toyota Production System. Many times we focus on what’s next or what’s new. Mr. Kosaka reminded me that we need to focus on getting the fundamentals right.

Mark Graban

One of my favorite sessions was Mark Graban’s “Warning: Signs!” Mark is the author of “Lean Hospitals” and writes the Lean Blog. He had so many funny examples of real signs that people put up in order to try to control behavior. He broke signs into three categories: 1) signs that tell us to be careful, 2) signs that cover-up process problems and 3) signs that communicate process changes. You can tell people were really trying to solve problems; it’s just that the sign doesn’t necessarily help us get to the root cause.

Mike Rother "Toyota Kata"

To cap the conference off I saw Mike Rother’s presentation on Toyota Kata based on the book with the same name. This presentation went into the story between the lines. His research into Toyota and human behavior really starts to spell out that when companies implement the tools of Lean, they are missing most of the benefit. How do we continuously improve so that it becomes a habit and part of our culture? Focus on the “kata” or approach. He talked about how our human brains are wired and how we create patterns of thinking and acting. This will help everyone move from the tools to the soul of Lean.

While I had time and my battery was strong enough, I took a minute or two to tweet some comments during the sessions I attended (http://twitter.com/5Ssupply). If you want to search twitter use hash tag #shingo11.

There are so many other people I’d like to mention, maybe I can save that for another post. If you haven’t attended a Shingo Prize Conference in the past, I would highly recommend that you put it on your list.