I thought that this was an interesting show about the state of manufacturing in America today called “Made in the USA” on PBS’s America Revealed hosted by Yul Kwon originally aired May 2, 2012. Here’s a description from their website:

“American manufacturing has undergone a massive revolution over the past 20 years. Despite all the gloom and doom, America is actually the number one manufacturing nation on earth. Yul Kwon crosses the nation looking at traditional and not-so traditional types of manufacturing. “

Some of the things that I think were noteworthy included:


Approximate Start Time

Car manufacturing in the US




Old movie of the Ford Model T


American Manufacturing


Production Value


Lean simulation training at the US VW plant


Lean manufacturing


USA is still #1


If you think manufacturing is dead in the USA, you might want to look again. It definitely doesn’t look like our father’s factories, but again they probably said that about their father’s factories. If you are a manufacturer and you do not think this applies to you see how they applied Lean concepts in a shipyard (didn’t Shigeo Shingo do that over 50 years ago?) and a steel mill. It is also worth pointing out that many of the high value-added jobs are still here. I’m not saying that everything is glorious in US Manufacturing, but it might not be as bleak as people make it out to be. Let’s get back to making stuff that matters.


Watch Made In The USA on PBS. See more from America Revealed.

If you need help on your Lean journey, check us out at www.5Ssupply.com

One major problem organizations face when trying to implement 5S is knowing how to do it correctly. Let me give you five tips on how to setup an effective 5S System.


1. Realize that 5S is a system

5S should never just be thought of as just a Kaizen Event or program. Programs come and go and they have a connotation of having an end date. Nor should 5S be a series of disconnect 5S events to clean your workplace. Like any living system, you need to nurture and take care of it. You have to realize that for 5S to truly sustain you need to understand that it is a system made up of process that use tools to get results that change or improve your culture (see figure on right).

2. Set-up a 5S Design Team

Don’t expect 5S just to grow organically just because you think everyone should know what 5S is and how to apply it. I recommend that you implement a 5S Design Team to direct the efforts of your 5S System. Have them develop your 5S Vision, Goals, Objectives, 5S Implementation Plan, Communication Plan, Learning Plan and Reward & Recognition Plan.

For more information on 5S Design Teams and how to setup your 5S System send us a message at trainer@5Ssupply.com and ask about our “5S Total Support System.”

3. Take the time to make the time for 5S

Comments like “Do you want us to do our work or do 5S” shows that people don’t understand the importance of an effective 5S System. I read a study that mentioned people spend about 28 minutes a day searching for items. If we can reduce the search time by implementing 5S, we automatically have found time to perform 5S. If we can save 10-15 minutes a day by not searching for things, then we just created 10-15 minutes per day for 5S. The key is to use that time for 5S and not some other activity. As the 5S sensei Hiroyuki Hurano said “Behind all workplace successes or failures are the 5S.”

4. Spend more time on the 4th “S” Standardize

I hear it all the time, “Tony, we have 5S but can’t seem to sustain it.” Having done this for many years and trying to apply the good old PDCA cycle, I tell the person that they should re-look at their Standardize efforts. As part of Standardize, you need to make up the rules for the first three “S’s” (Sort, Set-in-Order, and Shine) but more importantly you need to follow and enforce the rules. This is the secret. If you can’t do this, then of course you can’t sustain. The power of setting standards is that you immediately see when something is abnormal or out-of-standard. Once this is recognized, you can fix it. If you don’t set standards, how will everyone know if something is wrong or what needs to be improved? Do yourself a favor and spend more effective time on the fourth S – Standardize.

5S Sustain Campaign Board

5. To Sustain you have to make Sustain an integral part of your 5S System

I remember talking with a Lean consultant friend of mine about 5S Red Tags (used in the first “S” Sort). He said he usually just had his team cut red construction paper to make red tags. I asked him that if the tags were just made for the Kaizen Event how anyone on the team would think that 5S is forever? I mentioned that we have pre-printed 5S Red Tags  that are easy to get (in several styles). These look much more professional and fitting of a world-class 5S System. I also told him about our 5S Red Tag Stations, Holding Area Kits and our exclusive 5S Sustain Campaign Board. When the tools you use make things looks more permanent then it is easier for people to understand that 5S is not just a one-time thing. This is a simple way to help Sustain your 5S System.

I hope these tips helped. For more, you can download a free copy of our benchmarking report “The Very Best of 5S”.

Let me know what you think. – Tony

5S Supply’s “One Good Ideal” Photo Challenge

5S Supply Photo Challenge Image

Send in your photos and you could win!

Show off your solutions and share with other Lean practitioners!


As part of “yokoten” – sharing best practices – 5S Supply would like you to share “One Good Idea” that showcases an improvement in your work area. A visual workplace is a great workplace and a picture is worth 1,000 words so show us your before & after photos of an improvement that you (and your team) created. For more information>> 5S Supply Photo Challenge

Reward & Recognition

To recognize the top achievers, 5S Supply is providing the following rewards:

  • 1st Place (1) $500 gift certificate for merchandise from 5S Supply
  • 2nd Place (1) is two DVDs from GBMP (approximate value $258)
  • 3rd Place (1) is a Visual Workplace Color Standards Template from the Visual Workplace
  • Honorable Mention (10) will receive a gift certificate for 20% off their next order with 5S Supply valid through October 31st, 2012.

The odds of winning depend on the number of valid entries received and the evaluation by the judges.


Our distinguished panel of judges (see below) will select the top entries based on:

  1. Originality
  2. A focus on lean and visual principles
  3. Impact to your work-space or organization

How to Enter

Share your “One Good Idea”. You can use our Excel Template (that you can keep and use for your own Lean and Visual efforts) or create one that is similar. Please provide the following information:

  • Problem (250 characters) – Briefly describe the problem you were trying to solve.
  • Solution (250 characters) – Briefly describe the solution that was created
  • Before State (upload image – if you have one) – upload a “Before” image (300 x300 pixels preferred)
  • After State (upload image) – upload the new “After” image (300 x300 pixels preferred)
  • Benefits (250 characters) – Describe the benefits achieved with this solution (this doesn’t just have to be monetary benefits)
  • Photo Release – I agree to allow 5S Supply to publish and share these images
  • Name
  • email
  • Telephone

The Photo Challenge Starts August 1st, 2012 and the deadline for entry is midnight (CST) August 31, 2012. Winners will be selected and notified by September 28, 2012.

5S Supply Photo Challenge Judges

  • Dr. Gwendolyn Galsworth, Visual Thinking Inc. & The Visual-Lean Institute
  • Pat Wardwell, LGC, COO, GBMP
  • Rhonda Kovera, CEO, Visual Workplace, Inc.
  • Chris Abrey, LBC Accurate Perforating

Any questions? Please contact Jennifer Molski, Manager Customer Care, 5S Supply 815-469-5687 or jmolski@5Ssupply.com.