I’m having a difficult time coming up with a tracking method for our 5S program. We are running a program with a scoring value but no real tracking method. Any suggestions?
We have to pause every time we hear the word “program” attached to 5S or any improvement tool. Too often the 5S program is a major pillar, if not the only effort, of a lean implementation. While we can argue that a stand alone 5S program is better than no 5S at all, we need understand how we are deploying 5S before we can track its success. If it is part of a larger more comprehensive effort to implement an operating system then there is no problem in running these programs to build the system.
Before we can give responsible suggestions on tracking methods for 5S, we need to answer a few questions:
1. What is the purpose of the 5S program? Why was the program started? Is it part of a long-term effort to implement lean? Or is it a program to support safety, quality, visual management or general cleanliness? The more well-defined the purpose of the 5S program the easier it will be to answer the following questions.
2. How do we measure success of the 5S program? Is it the 5S score? Is it cost savings associated with 5S? Correlations in improvements to all KPIs? Is it the number of areas 5S-ed? Number of teams active in daily 5S? The answer to this should be tightly linked to the first question.
3. Based on this, what are we trying to track? In other words, what will “good” look like? Are we aiming for a specific 5S score across the facility? Is it the brightness of the shine from the floor? Is it the level of engagement? Are we looking for evidence of sustained improvement?
The best way is to track just about anything is to go see the actual status. For a 5S program this may mean checking the neatness and organization of an area (the result) with periodic audits of how the tidying is done (the process). The most natural way to do this is to build the 5S check into the daily management routines of team leaders, supervisors and managers. Some call this leader standard work. Lacking leader standard work, teams, team leaders, logically defined zones, and standard work for processes it is very difficult to track, much less sustain, 5S.
The idea of 5S, as with all of the lean operating system, is to deliberately design the workplace and way of working. It’s not unlike observing that when you plan seeds in the ground they grow to become crops, and if you plant them in neat rows they are easier to harvest. Maybe I am making this too complicated and David was simply looking for examples of a 5S audit sheet or an electronic database for tracking the scores. What’s your view on tracking 5S performance?