101 Kaizen TemplatesThe 5S

101 Kaizen Templates: Motion Economy Chart

By Jon Miller Updated on October 31st, 2020

One of the toughest things that a kaizen consultant has to do is to tear down the results of past kaizens. This is hard because people develop a sense of ownership of the status quo they helped to build. Even if the status is not good, when people have worked hard to make a process significantly better, they are reluctant to break it apart and start over. Yet that is what kaizen is all about so that is what we have to do.

Redoing 5S

Take 5S for example. We see so many shadow boards or neatly arranged tools as examples of 5S. It is easy to copy what you see in a book or during a factory tour of a lean plant and do the same in your own work area. These lean tools and skills don’t live in isolation. They are part of a system. Without understanding the thinking behind the tools, they may not live at all. Pretty does not equal effective when it comes to 5S. Many times shadow boards that looks nice may need to be torn down and redesigned for them to improve safety, quality and productivity.

Making Abnormality Obvious

The purpose of 5S is to make abnormality immediately obvious. One of the drivers of lean is eliminating waste, and 5S is one of the practices that helps make waste and deviation from standards visible. When waste or problems become visible we can do something about them. When we do 5S without a clear idea of what “good” looks like, we risk setting a standard that builds waste into the process.

5S and Motion Economy

5S also improves safety, quality and cut cost by getting rid of waste. In particular 5S is good for getting rid of motion waste. So when we see a bloom of shadow boards in a factory and the resulting action of people walking back and forth to these shadow boards, sometimes we need to gently tear down this notion of 5S and replace it with one more centered on motion economy rather than form.

The Motion Economy Chart

The Motion Economy Chart is something we put together for that purpose. It is a very simple radar chart. Enter values from 1 to 5 in the yellow highlighted section and a radar chart will display. The definitions of the categories are somewhat subjective. Each company should define what is “ideal” for their process in terms of time to retrieve an item. A pit crew of an F-1 racing team would probably rate their times in tenths of seconds, where seconds would suffice for most others.

The Motion Economy Chart is useful as a check in the effectiveness of your 5S efforts. If you’re struggling with “shadow boards as 5S” or in need of a gentle way to tear down fixed ideas of what a workplace organization means in a lean workplace, hand out this chart and challenge people to further kaizen their motion economy.

  1. Mark Darvill

    April 17, 2008 - 4:01 pm

    Hi Jon, this is great, particularly as it gives a quantification that the spaghetti drawing doesn’t. I’ve just changed one thing, the number sequence of the score. For me, having distance travelled correllated to the size of the score gives a terrific visual with a chart having a greater area for a greater distance travelled.

  2. mash

    September 27, 2010 - 8:13 am

    i want 2 learn more about your kaizaen tools

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