In business, 5S implementation represents one methodology of lean management, frequently applied to manufacturing or production operations. 5S literally stands for five individual swords: sort, set in order, shine, standardise and sustain. The implementation goes through a process of, according to EMS Consulting Group, removing unnecessary items, reorganisation of the space, cleaning, procedure development and enhanced discipline. This process can have a number of benefits.
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Every organisation desires improved productivity, as it increases overall return on investment. The 5S implementation process frequently provides this improvement, reports Strategos. The removal of unnecessary items and maximisation of workspace efficiency alone can help to create improved productivity by limited the amount of time wasted. The less time spent searching through unnecessary items or moving through poorly organised workspace means more time spent actually working.
Improved safety represents another benefit of 5S implementation, according to Strategos. A clean working environment, especially in manufacturing, can significantly reduce the number of injuries sustained by workers. Spills of chemicals or liquids that go unattended magnify the chances of slips and falls. Methodical cleaning procedures limit the probability of such an event. Reduction in the amount of travel through the work environment also minimises this risk by limiting unnecessary exposure to hazards elsewhere in the facility. This provides an added benefit of improving morale, as a low incidence of injury conveys a concern on the part of the employer for worker safety.
Quality Management reports that 5S implementation typically yields a reduction in lost and damaged items. A workspace with clear organisation and labelling allows the workers to replace items in a designated position, minimising the number of lost tools. The appropriate management of tools and parts also means diminished odds of a stray tool or part damaging a product during the production process. A secured tool cannot fall onto a half-finished product. Sustaining the cleaning and organisation practices makes this waste reduction possible in the long term.
According to EMS Consulting Group, achieving worker commitment to the principles of 5S is a major goal of a 5S implementation, as they will be largely responsible for using it on the ground. However, 5S also encourages worker participation in the workplace design and maintenance. This involvement serves to engage the workers in the long-term sustainability of the workplace and can enhance their commitment to and pride in the work. Improvement in pride, reports Strategos, has the ancillary benefit of lower absenteeism in the workplace.
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