The Fifth 'S' - How to Most Effectively Sustain the 5S Process

December 2, 2019 Kim WolfCambridge, Guelph, Kitchener/Waterloo 442 Views

The focus of a recent SIG event was The Fifth 'S' - How to Most Effectively Sustain the 5S Process, hosted by our member, Ingenia Polymers.  Many companies have implemented 5S, but as we all know, the most difficult part of a successful implementation is sustaining the tool – that fifth S.  We discussed challenges of 5S and the methods and tools that our companies use to drive sustainability and to increase employee accountability in the tool’s success.  It is one thing to read about 5S in a book and an entirely different thing to have the tool be obvious, consistent, and effective throughout the facility a year later.  Below are just a few of the points that our membership identified and discussed:

The 5S Process Challenges:

  • Changing habits, getting people to accept “change”, and getting buy-in from management team and hourly teams
  • Training
  • Sorting process is not always accurate and is challenged long after the process should be complete
  • Lack of consistency between departments and shifts
  • Lack of knowledge of benefits to the team members on the production floor and subsequent ownership by them

Solutions to sustain 5S:

  • Colour coding by line and by equipment type, etc
  • Introduce Kaizen teams with operators as team members
  • Conduct audits – cross functionally, self, and cross departmental
  • Adapt engineering process for equipment design changes to include 5S impact on checklist
  • Post visual before and after pictures in the area and use them on the audit form
  • Actually score audits, using numeric score, and publish the numbers
  • Start the implementation in the office area to show priority and consistency
  • Conduct plantwide training – either formal training (EMC offers: as a choice) and/or informal overview delivered by senior leaders at an information meeting with all employees
  • Define cost benefit and individual benefits for all employees
  • Train new employees as they join the company, as well as employees transferring to new roles

We have been focusing many SIG events on Continuous Improvement tools, which enables our members to share their experiences, successes, and challenges.  We also are able to see many of the tools in practice when we tour the plants, focusing on the tools that the event was centered around.  In this case, Ingenia showcased several tools that they have implemented and they sough input from the tour about what they could consider as their next steps in their journey.

Kim Wolf, EMC Canada, Kitchener Waterloo, 5S training