Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What is all the fuss about 5S anyway--Is it really important?

If an individual took a checklist with them and investigated all the different "versions" of the 5S's out there we would have about 10 or 20 different S's. In my experience I've seen different words used in the place of the "original" 4S approach (american culture added the 5th S by the way) established years ago in Japan. The "version" I like to use comes from the original TPS Handbook created by Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC).

I think if a company understands the intent behind 5S then the words chosen to represent the meaning are merely a guide to explain the process or tool. What I find is that companies will implement 5S but very few people really understand WHAT it is and WHY its an important step in Lean Implementation and TPS. (See previous blog posts explaining the WHAT and WHY.)

So what is 5S and Standardization have to do with one another?

5S supports Toyota concept of "abnormality management" by applying visual techniques (visualization) and controls that enable a team member to immediately recognize the standard and any deviation from it. We can also call this Problem Identification, which is the first step in Problem Solving. The 5S condition on the shop floor or in the office can effect our ability to manage those 4 Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) -- Quality, Safety, Productivity, and Cost.

Here is a helpful guide below to determine the different levels of knowledge when it comes to 5S "thinking".

Where is your understanding as a company or an individual in regard to 5S?
Take a look at this: (OJD=On the Job Development)

If a company is really trying to change their culture in regard to Lean and using TPS tools then 5S can be a way to develop team members as shown above.

So what are those S's.....let's take a look below:

Remember 5S is a "visualization and standardization" tool that used to implement Lean (TPS). It can also be used as a development tool for leadership as well as team members across all levels of the company. So the next time someone asks about 5S just know its more than the "flavor of the month".
Til next time
Tracey Richardson

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What does "Standardization" really mean to a Company?

As some of you know, Standardization is the "foundation" of the Toyota Production System, it creates the benchmark for improvement. Taiichi Ohno was famous for saying "Without Standards there can be no Kaizen", this is so true when it comes to creating a culture for continuous improvement within a company. Often times we have to know where we are(current situation) to know where we are going (improvements or Ideal Situation).

Standardized work can be defined as:

A TPS tool for making quality products that is centered around human movements outlining efficient, safe work methods that eliminate waste (muda). It organizes and defines the major steps of the job which are important when a worker may do it differently each time. Also there can be certain motions within our work that are disorganized which lead to inefficiencies (waste) within those processes.

I can remember when I started at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK) in Georgetown, KY, we had to write all our standardized work charts (STW) and work instruction sheets (WIS) before we ever made our first vehicle. This ensured we were building in "Jidoka" on our work processes. This was one of my first lessons from the Japanese trainers in Kaizen and making improvements. They consider it a necessity of our job and the culture we were in required us to follow it religiously. By doing this we were able to maintain and improve our team goals in quality, safety, productivity and cost. This has been one of the secrets to Toyota's success over many companies who struggle in their lean journey. I often hear " We don't make cars, or we dont do the same thing everyday; so standardized work doesnt fit in our daily activities". I reply by saying, "if there are people, processes and systems" standardized work, problem solving and kaizen can apply ANYWHERE!!!"

Another common myth about standardized work I hear is that many think of a rigid work environment where workers arent required to think (robots) when they hear about "Standardization", this wasn't the case at all at Toyota. If we had ideas to make an improvement to the current standardized work we discussed our idea with our leaders and it was considered depending upon the consensus and buy-in from other members and shifts. Once consensus was reached then we ran a trial to determine the effectiveness, if it was deemed an effective change then the Standardized work was re-written and everyone was trained in the new method. This was continuous improvement at its best, and I lived this "way of thinking" for 10 years while working on the production floor at TMMK. These were priceless moments in my own journey in understanding the tools of TPS.

Until next time,
Tracey Richardson