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Utilizing Visual Communication with 5S

2 min read

5S and visual communicationThe heart and soul of visual management is 5S. It is systematic approach to workplace organization and cleaning that will transform a disorganized workplace into an efficiently running machine. 5S creates a strong foundation that allows businesses to employ additional Lean manufacturing tools such as kaizen. When the work environment is orderly, people can more easily identify opportunities for improvement.

The five phases of the 5S methodology are as follow:

  1. Sort (Seiri) – The first step in 5S is to eliminate all the things in the workspace that are not being used and store them away. If a tool or material is not used on a daily basis, eliminate it from the workstation.
  2. Set in Order (Seiton) –The second step is to arrange the items used on a daily basis so that they can be easily accessed and quickly stored. Your goal is to eliminate any unnecessary movements and actions by the worker to make the process as efficient as possible.
  3. Shine (Seiso) – Next is to get everything cleaned and functioning properly. The goal is to remove all the dirt and grime and to keep it that way on daily basis. You want to get it clean and keep it clean.
  4. Standardize (Seiketsu) –The fourth step is to develop a routine for sorting, setting, and shining. Standardize creates a system of tasks and procedures that will ensure that the principles of 5S are performed on a daily basis.
  5. Sustain (Shitsuke) – In the last step, you want to create a culture that will follow the steps on a daily basis. The chief objective of sustain is to give your staff the commitment and motivation to follow each step, day in and day out.

There are a variety of visual management tools to ensure implementation of 5S is successful and effective. The following are a few visual cues to aid in organization and improve communication in the facility.

  • Red Tags: Red tags are essential to the first step of 5S and will help in creating a strong foundation for the rest of the system. The tags will help workers identify items that no longer add value to the organization and sort them accordingly.
  • Shadow boards: Using a shadow board approach when arranging tools will simplify the process and sustain your organizational efforts. Shadow boards feature a vinyl outline of where tools belong, allowing employees to quickly identify which tools are missing.
  • Floor Markings: Industrial floor tape and corners can be used in a variety of applications in 5S and can be used in nearly any type of facility. Whether they’re used to delineate specific work cells or to create pedestrian lanes for workers, floor markings are often a staple to a well-organized workplace.
  • Labels: Nearly anything in a facility can be labeled and labels have long been the foundation for keeping areas organized and efficient. A strategically labeled workplace will help employees understand where to return tools and materials as well as helping them identify when items are missing. Adding labels to bins, tool chests, storage units, warehouse shelves, and pipes is a cost-effective and easy solution to implement.

Thoroughly following the practices of 5S and involving employees from all levels results in more than just an organized and clean facility. You will find that when followed diligently, 5S cultivates a culture of efficiency and productivity, ultimately affecting the bottom line.

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About Jesse Allred