Think lean – a clean factory is good for your business
Lean and clean are two important operating goals for any good manufacturing business. A production site can be organized in a number of ways, but one of the most popular methods, 5S, combines an interesting blend of philosophy and practice.
Asia has long been held in high regard for its efficient processes and much has been written about the 5S methodology, which was developed in Japan and used by Toyota to great success. The guiding principles of 5S are: seiri (tidiness), seiton (orderliness), seiso (cleanliness), seiketsu (standardization) and shitsuke (sustaining).
To successfully implement the 5S methodology in any organization, it has to be more than a five step process; it has to be built into the company’s culture and followed by all employees from top to bottom – for it to work, everyone has to be committed! The philosophy of 5S is simple, easy to understand and applicable to any working environment, making it a sustainable approach to continuously improving conditions for staff and equipment. It goes as follows:
Sort through all desks, drawers, shelves and storerooms, and identify all irrelevant items. Then, remove the unnecessary equipment, however big or small, from the workplace.
Systemize the workplace by putting all the remaining, necessary items in their correct place. Efficient storage methods and order allow for easy access to goods and materials.
Clean everything and keep everything clean every day. This not only keeps the equipment in good working order, it creates a healthy environment for staff.
Standardize the cleaning and sorting processes by establishing a clear set of guidelines that make the first three steps simple to execute.
Train the entire company to promote a disciplined environment in which all employees practice the first four steps as a matter of course.
Implementing 5S in the workplace is not easy and requires strong leadership that aligns people and processes to the end goals: a clean factory, efficient production processes, quality goods and ultimately, satisfied customers.
To achieve these goals, you need to identify and remove any disruptive employee practices or environmental factors that could prevent the 5S methodology from fully maximizing your organization’s efficiency. Some will be obvious, like incorrectly completed equipment checklists, and others will be less so – like dust. This unexpected element can build-up in parts of your manufacturing machinery and settle in your storerooms, impacting the performance of your equipment and the quality of your end product.
5s as a management style
A company’s guiding philosophy is built on the principles of profit and productivity. To achieve business growth, business leaders need to continuously review and optimize all the factors that affect their organization’s performance. At the end of the day, costs can only be kept low and margins boosted, when all production issues are resolved and processes are running smoothly.
Most manufacturing processes create a lot of airborne particles that have to settle somewhere, usually on your goods which are then stored in a warehouse where they collect even more dust. When it’s time for delivery, you can either delay transport to clean the cargo, or send it as it is. Regardless of how exceptional your products are no customer will forgive you if they arrive unclean – or late. Delivering unclean or late goods to a customer is bad for business in more ways than one; not only will you very likely lose that account, your reputation will suffer as word spreads.
The dust challenge
High levels of dust can also interfere with equipment such as sorting machines and barcode scanners, causing unexpected downtime. These unforeseen maintenance needs can halt production, resulting in further delivery delays, increased costs and unhappy customers.
Furthermore, nobody likes to work in an unhealthy or unclean environment. Elevated concentrations of airborne particles in your manufacturing plant or factory can negatively impact your staff attraction and retention levels. In the worst case, your staff could be unmotivated by working conditions like these. And what, next to your good business skills, is more important than a high performing team in your back? Everybody knows: Losing good staff is expensive and ongoing recruitment and training costs can affect your company’s bottom line.
The philosophy of 5S addresses this by facilitating a cultural shift in your organization’s way of thinking that results in a cleaner, healthier and safer workplace – which in turn, increases productivity and overall performance. Fortunately, solutions exist to help you tackle dust and successfully embed the 5S methodology into your organizational culture and practices, supporting your business growth with a solid return on investment.
Clean air, clean factory
The 5s methodology cannot work optimally if used in isolation. You will get the best results if you supplement it with other solutions or services that support your lean and clean goal. One such a product is Zehnder Clean Air Solutions. The clean air system filters airborne particles out of the air before they even have a chance to settle on machines and products. With reduced levels of dust in the air, your cleaning costs will be cut, your equipment will work better for longer and your products will reach your customers on time (or even early!) and in perfect condition. In fact, you will be able to process orders faster as goods will be ready to go with only minimal, if any, cleaning required before dispatch.
Installing a clean air system in your factory or warehouse can reduce the volume of dust by up to 90%. It’s the perfect realisation of each 5S principle and is a clear indication of a reputable manufacturer who shows respect for the customer, and pride in the product – both of which are good for your business.