How to Implement Lean Manufacturing: Straighten and See (5S) – Part 4

In our last “how to implement lean” post, I said we’d look at the following three elements of Straighten and See:

  1. Establishing a marked and labeled home address for everything!
  2. Marking equipment and machinery so that it’s easy to operate and/or monitor safely.
  3. Establishing easy to see information about work station performance and activity.

Let’s look at each in turn.

Everything gets a marked and labeled home address

Sometimes, when I’m teaching all this on-site, I’ll get my class to put on their PPE and have them follow me out onto the shop floor.  I tell them, “Straighten and See is all about deciding where everything you see right now…that’s everything you see…goes.  Then marking and labeling that place.”  That forklift over there…a marked and labeled home address.  That box of loose fasteners under that work bench…a marked and labeled home address.  Those boards stacked against the wall…same thing.  All that paper work spread across that work desk…same thing.”

I think it’s a bit overwhelming for them sometimes.  They’re up for a shadow board here and there, but a marked and labeled home address for everything?  Isn’t that a bit overzealous?

Here’s the thing…if you need it, it needs a designated place.  If you won’t designate a place for it, you don’t need it.

This whole “marked and labeled home address” thing can be difficult.  You think it’s going to be some labeled shelves and drawers, a few shadow boards, and maybe a new cabinet or two.  It ends up being a decision as to where you’ll put and how you’ll store everything (on a shelf, under the work table, in a tool box, in a small bin…that you have to purchase, of course, on a peg nailed into the wall, on the floor, on a pallet, etc., etc.) and how you’ll mark everything (labels, stencils, signs, tape or paint on the floor, “kaizen foam” in tool boxes, etc., etc.)  So, marking and labeling the items that go into one cabinet can entail:

  • Ordering a label maker and label material,
  • Ordering a cabinet,
  • Ordering small bins and containers (maybe in different colors),
  • Deciding what goes into the cabinet and where it goes,
  • Painting the cabinet and shelves,
  • Making and installing “separators” on the shelves for items that won’t fit easily into bins,
  • Making and placing the labels,
  • Getting everything into the cabinet,
  • Labeling the outside of the cabinet (so everyone knows what’s inside the cabinet without having to open the door…though you should really take the door off).

You get the idea, I’m sure.  This labeling activity, like most of 5S, is straightforward but not easy.  It takes energy and discipline to get a marked and labeled home address for everything that needs it.