When it comes to visiting customer premises or acquaintances, it is frequent to have the sensation of disorder, of filth, of lack of discipline.
In these cases, it seems that no one cares about its consequences, wasted time, endless searches, unnecessary purchases, moodiness, demotivation.

Only from time to time a special work day is organized to clean and order, which of course only lasts a few days, justifying itself for reasons such as lack of time, lack of staff, excessive work ….

In the following lines I will explain my experience with the application of the so-called 5 S inside a kitchen.
‘… The 5S method, so called by the first letter (in Japanese) of each of its five stages, is a Japanese management technique based on five simple principles. It began in Toyota in the 1960s with the goal of achieving better organized, more orderly and cleaner workplaces on a permanent basis to achieve greater productivity and a better working environment. The 5S has been widely disseminated and there are numerous organizations of various kinds, such as industrial companies, service companies, hospitals, educational centers or associations, which currently use them … ‘

Its objective is to improve and maintain the conditions of organization, order and cleanliness in the workplace. It is not just a matter of aesthetics, it is about improving working conditions, safety, work climate, staff motivation and efficiency.

His name responds to the initials of five Japanese words beginning with S:

‘Sein’, clear, select. Separate the useful from the useless.
‘Seiton’, order, organize. Put the useful thing in its place.
‘Seiso’, recover, clean. Repair what is not right.
‘Seiketsu’, normalize, maintain. Establish processes.
‘Shitsuke’, discipline, respect the rules. Act systematically respecting established criteria.

As in any field of application of continuous improvement systems, to take it forward it is necessary to take into account:

The inescapable commitment of management and supervisors.
The profile and functions of the coordinator.
A pilot experience that will serve as a reference …
The methodology to be applied.
The projected benefits.
The goals to achieve.

In the case of which it participates, in order to implement the 5 S project, the area of ​​reception of the merchandise and deposits, both cold and dry, was used as pilot area.
We used a methodology of work with the equipment developed in the following stages:

Training of personnel in concepts related to the experience to be performed. Training lectures on the method were held.
An audit of the area in question was carried out by staff of our consultancy to detect opportunities for improvement.
The possible deviations generated by the vices installed and the possible solutions and actions to be taken were analyzed.
The selected actions were launched.
A progress index was generated to evaluate the results together with the stakeholders.
Finally, a follow-up was carried out to verify that no deviations were generated.

Although simple and do not require complex training for all staff, or experts with sophisticated knowledge, it is essential to implement them through a rigorous and disciplined methodology.
It is based on applying the five concepts:

Select (sein): separate the useful from the useless.
It consists of identifying the elements that are necessary in the area of ​​work, separating them from the unnecessary ones and detaching from the latter, preventing them from appearing again. Likewise, it is verified that everything is necessary.
Some rules help make good decisions:

It eliminates (whether it is sold, given away or thrown) everything that is used less than once a year.
Of what is left, everything that is used less than once a month departs (for example, in the archives section, or in the warehouse).
Of what is left, everything used less than once a week turns away not very far (typically in a closet).
Of what is left, everything used less than once a day is left on the job.
Of what is left, everything that is used less than once per hour is in the workplace, within reach of the hand.
Sort (seiton): Place the useful on your site.
It consists of establishing the way in which the necessary materials must be located and identified, so that it is easy and quick to find, use and replace them.
‘A place for every thing, and every thing in its place’.
At this stage it is intended to organize the workspace in order to avoid both time and energy losses.

Sort the objects in order of use.
Standardize the jobs.
Favor the first PEPS entered, first quit.
Cleaning (seiso)

Cleaning (seiso): repairing what is not right
Once the work space has been cleared and tidied up, it is much easier to clean it. It consists of identifying and eliminating the sources of dirt and carrying out the necessary actions so that they do not appear again, ensuring that all media are always in perfect working order .

Standardization (seiketsu): establishing processes
It consists of detecting irregular or anomalous situations, through simple and visible rules for all.
At this stage standards are created that remind us that order and cleanliness must be maintained every day.

To favor a visual management.
Standardize the operative methods.
Train staff in standards.
Maintenance of discipline (shitsuke): respect the rules
This stage aims to work permanently in accordance with established standards, checking the 5S system monitoring and elaborating continuous improvement actions.

After carrying out this control, comparing the results obtained with the established standards and objectives, document the conclusions and, if necessary, modify the processes and standards to achieve the objectives.

Order and cleanliness have a positive impact on:

Safety, as soon as there are fewer accidents and errors.
Increases efficiency, decreases the search time by poor identification, reduces the amount of inventory by order.
There is a better level of product and process quality.
The motivation of the staff grows, it does what it has to do with less effort.

The application of the ‘5S’ methodology is the previous step to implement other methodologies of continuous improvement.
For this, the commitment of management is essential, getting the participation of all levels and persevering until achieving the objectives. In the case described, the company is totally committed to the improvement and the daily efforts result in a team working with full awareness of it.
Each one must be responsible for the level of order and cleanliness of their area, so it is necessary to inform, train, disseminate, generate a well-defined site for each element and each element in its site, eliminate the sources of dirt, set standards and Respect them.
If nothing is done, nothing will improve.

Applying 5S to a services corporation: The engine of productivity

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