LeanCredit: http://www.5stoday.comCredit: http://www.5stoday.com

At first glance, the idea of lean manufacturing can be intimidating. However, the concept is incredibly simple and extremely efficient. Productivity and revenue will increase once a company applies a lean manufacturing program.

Lean manufacturing is a set of business practices that’s based on the Toyota Production System. It’s a production practice that works to eliminate wasteful products. The “lean” definition of waste is any action or process a customer will pay for. The process of creating a product must move it closer to what the customer wants, and must be done correctly the first time. Both of those principles add value to a product, which is the goal of lean manufacturing.

This practice is thought to increase efficiency by optimizing flow. This can be done through implementing a 5s system. 5s seeks to increase workplace organization. It’s based on five concepts that are translated from Japanese.

The first is Seiri, or Sorting. Eliminate items in the workplace that are not being used, and then store or discard them. You should go through everything in the work area, and then keep only the essential items.

Seiton, or Setting in Order, means arranging daily items in a way that allows them to be quickly accessed and stored away. Using tool outlines and foam tool kits will ensure that everything has a place and can be found easily. This concept seeks to create an easy environment for workers. They can then do their work more efficiently.

The next concept is Seiso, or Shine. This ensures the workplace is clean and functioning properly. Tools are put into their designated places when not being used, and the entire work area is cleaned at the end of each shift. The main idea of this concept is that cleanliness should be a part of the daily routine instead of being an occasional activity.

Seiketsu, or Standardizing, requires that practices are consistent and standardized. All workstations dealing with the same job should be identical so employees can work more efficiently. This also involves creating a routine for setting, sorting, and shining.

The final concept is Shitsuke, or Sustaining. This creates a system that complies with the other four steps on a daily routine. It keeps the focus on the new way of operating and is always looking to improve processes. The first four concepts should be reviewed before making any changes in order to keep the new process functioning.

Using 5s will lead to lower costs, improved safety, better quality, increased productivity, and higher employee gratification. Wasteful practices will be ended and a better product will be created for a lower price. Productivity will also be improved when the employees have clear guidelines and an organized system.

6s uses the 5s concepts, but adds safety to the core ideas. This system seeks to keep safety the most important part of every process and action. The main idea behind safety is to create a workplace that’s visually marked. All hazards should be marked with signs. Floor tape serves to mark out areas, and pipe marking identifies the contents of a pipe in case of an emergency.