Blog Archives

Everything You Need to Know About 5S

Tony Ferraro, a friend and fellow blogger, at Creative Safety Supply has created a great resource for 5S.  It is a single source to learn about 5S. Here is a link to the website: 5S Study and Research Page.

There are several sections to the page:

  • What is 5S?
  • Origins of 5S
  • Why 5S?
  • Employee involvement
  • How to get started
  • Common misconceptions
  • Each step of 5S defined
  • Understanding the sixth S – safety
  • Tools for 5S

Tony reached out to many in the lean community to help build the page.  I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to give input into this great resource.

I would recommend it for anyone learning about 5S as a great place to understand what it is and how to get started with implementation.  There are plenty of great visuals as well.  Here is the link again: 5S Study and Research Page.

Take the 10 minutes to watch the lean parody posted on the page as well.  It is very funny.

Great work, Tony!

Error Proofing Swedish Style

I was at IKEA the other week and saw the best error proofing for cart safety.  If you haven’t been to an IKEA store, it is massive.  The parking for our store is ground level and the store is on the second and third levels.  Elevators are used to help get the carts down to the ground level as well as an escalator.  The shopping carts have suction cups on the wheels that engage as you get on the flat escalator.

For safety reasons, IKEA does not want customers to take the flatbed carts down the escalator.  Products could slide off and cause an accident.  In line with the traditional mindset, there are signs posted showing a normal shopping cart is OK to take down the escalator and the flatbeds are not.

In a lean error proofing mindset, IKEA made it impossible to take the flatbeds down the escalator.

IKEA_CartsThere are two poles that are four foot high as you enter the escalator.  The normal shopping cart fits through the poles with a couple of inches to spare.  The flatbed cart is made to be angled out wider so it can’t fit.  The poles are also positioned so neither cart can enter from the side.

It was a great system that a lean person can truly appreciate.

One Man’s Lean Journey: Safety First. What It Truly Means.

Lean and safety go together like peanut butter and jelly. Safety should always come first. Whether the company is trying to implement lean or not. Safety is #1.

The automotive facility I was working at was one of the many places that claimed safety first in everything they did. It wasn’t until the management saw it ranked nearly last among facilities owned by the corporation. This is when the transformation took place.

Safety became a daily discussion in every area. A safety committee formed by employees. Safety bingo with a cash payout began. But the biggest change was came within the management team and how they handled safety concerns and issues. When an accident did occur all management was required to participate in understanding why it happened. Also, anytime there was a requisition making the facility a safer place it was signed…no questions asked. No ROI.

Within two years, the facility was in the Top 5 worldwide for the corporation for safety. The facility surpassed 2.5 million man hours worked without an accident. Employees were correcting other employees when it came to safety concerns.

Actions around safety were clear and concise. There was no room for misinterpretation. A 40 year veteran and amazing tooling engineer got sent home for one week with no pay because he did not lock out / tag out the machine before he went into it. It was shocking but sent a statement.

Contrast that to another facility I was in a few years later where the hearing protection rules were vague and unclear. When approached about this the management team was defensive and was more concerned about the inconvenience of dealing with hearing protection. Two years later the facility had four cases of hearing loss.

Lean or not the automotive facility was truly dedicated to safety.

Reflections:

  • Safety first is a mindset. It isn’t just something you do. It is something you believe.
  • Being safe and believing in safety are different things.
  • The actions of a leadership team give true insight into their belief around safety.

Guest Post: The Role of Protection in Preventing Injuries

Today’s guest post comes from Danielle M.  She has been a dedicated student of Lean Manufacturing methodologies since 2006. It was love at first sight when she read the motto, “Everything has a place; everything in its place” in her first copy of The Toyota Way.

Many businesses, factories and corporations are picking up on lean manufacturing processes. Lean manufacturing focuses on cutting waste and other unnecessary parts of production to efficiently build a product that is focused on providing value to customers. This involves looking at a product from the consumer’s perspective and removing anything that is not necessary for a good user experience.

Overall, lean manufacturing is designed to save money while still delivering a valuable final product. However, it is very important to note the difference between lean manufacturing and “cutting corners.” Lean process promotes removal of waste for the sake of efficiency; it does not promote the cutting of vital parts of production. It could be argued that the most vital part of any production line is safety. Good safety ensures the health and well being of factory workers and saves manufacturers money in the long run by preventing injuries. With a necessary investment upfront, good safety measures can become a central part of any lean operation.

Innovations

Technology continues to advance, which not only makes the work done within factories easier, but also allows factories to be safer places for employees to work. Certainly, robotics has made production quicker and safer, as robots can complete jobs that may be dangerous to humans. Protecting those human employees has become easier, as well. New developments in the equipment employees wear allow them to be kept safer on the job while improving functionality. Safety goggles are becoming increasingly stronger while still allowing clarity, and flame retardant suits are continuing to evolve in safety standards. While these innovative technologies evolve, they are not in all cases becoming more expensive. In fact, new technologies can sometimes come in the form of cheaper materials, providing greater safety at a lower price point.

Prevention

Of course, preventive measures and practices play a significant role in making a work environment safer. Having protective equipment onsite at all times is necessary to providing safety. To keep with lean practices, it may be necessary to establish a vendor-managed inventory system so that you never run out of any protective equipment you require. Once a vendor establishes the inventory system, you can implement lean 5S tactics—Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain—to keep everything in proper order. Using 5S to establish a good inventory system provides safer environments by preventing clutter and saves employees time in their search. That said, properly training employees on where to get the protective equipment and how to properly use it is also important.

Design

Lean processes put an emphasis on the streamlined design of a plant. Given the number of specific machines and other tools needed to complete projects, factories and plants can easily become cluttered and poorly designed. As employees need to move through other parts of a plant in order to complete their jobs, they are increasing the likelihood of injury. By creating a smooth transition from one piece of a job to the next and organizing each area, employees are less likely to run into hazards when on the job.

Do you have your own safety guidelines that also work to help your bottom line? Do you have questions about implementing cost-effective protection and prevention measures? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

Guest Post: 5S-ing: The First Step to Safety

Today’s guest post comes from Danielle M.  She has been a dedicated student of Lean Manufacturing methodologies since 2006. It was love at first sight when she read the motto, “Everything has a place; everything in its place” in her first copy of The Toyota Way.

We are always looking for ways to reduce costs and increase productivity. Maybe it’s time to grab a broom and clean up our act! The 5S methodology is one way to organize your facilities to get the most out of your space. Japanese manufacturing created this method to reduce shop floor and manufacturing accidents and waste, and increase productivity.

The five points on which 5S focuses are:

  • Sort
  • Set in Order
  • Shine
  • Standardize
  • Sustain

While it’s obvious to most that an organized environment is a “better” environment, in practice, we don’t do this very often. The 5S method is based on the simple premise that an organized (shop floor, factory, construction site, etc.):

  • is more productive
  • is safer
  • meets deadlines
  • generates fewer defects
  • is less chaotic

Each of the 5S steps contributes to improving the safety and productivity of the physical environment. So grab your broom and trash can and let’s get started!

Keep Only What You Need – Discard the Rest (Sort)

This is the opposite of the “pack rat” who saves everything because “we might need it some day.” The result is a shop floor or warehouse cluttered with items you can’t use and are just taking up space. We waste time looking for what we need in the middle of all the junk we’ve accumulated. Boxes of lose parts sit in the aisle and block exits creating safety hazards. Prioritize all that stuff. Keep what you need and get rid of the rest.

Create a Home for Everything (Set in Order)

Once the clutter is gone, put everything in its own place, mark it properly and document where it is. We take care to put customer products in their proper bins with the correct SKU, but tools, equipment and supplies don’t get the same attention. Hardware retailers often set up their inventory based on the type of equipment the user is looking for; this type of methodology also carries over to the workplace so that workers know or can learn where equipment is at all time. Every time someone has to search for something because it’s not in the right place is lost productivity. The new guy is always asking where something is!

Keep Things Clean (Shine)

Work and storage areas all need to be clean. It’s not just cosmetic; things work better when they’re clean and well maintained. While it may be the last thing employees do at the end of the day, keeping things clean is still a priority. Leaks and spills can be dangerous and create a safety hazard. Create a standard of cleanliness for an area and make sure it gets that treatment everyday.

Create Repeatable Processes (Standardize)

As your efforts to implement 5S produce results, document this and create procedures to be followed each shift to keep things that way. Be as organized with your documentation as you were with your shop floor/warehouse. Your procedure manual puts the broom in the hands of your employees to do their part.

Creating discipline in the work place means giving your employees the same procedures, same tools and same work spaces in which to be productive. Productivity is easier to measure when everyone is working from the same page. Make sure that page is clear to everyone!

Evaluate and Make Needed Changes (Sustain)

A key to the 5S methodology working is continual evaluation and improvement. Where are there still code violations, employee safety hazards or other impacts to productivity? Change what’s not working and modify what is working to make it work better. There are many procedure manuals just sitting on the shelf collecting dust because they are outdated. Don’t let yours join the clutter!

Using the 5S method means taking a few simple steps to get the most out of what you already have. Create a leaner environment in which employees are safer and more productive. The broom is in your hands!

Injuries are OK…as Long as We Have Fewer Than Last Year

How many times have you heard, “Safety is our #1 concern.  Safety above all else.”?  I have heard it with every company I have been a part of.  The very first thing I ask when I hear this remark is, what is your safety goal for this year?  To date, I have NEVER had anyone say zero.  In every case, it is some percentage reduction of injuries from the previous year.

If safety is so important, why can’t the stated goal be zero accidents/injuries?  I always follow up my first question with a second question asking if any accident/injury is OK.  I always get a resounding no.  So why is management afraid to state a goal of zero accidents/injuries?

I know stating it is one thing and behaviors are another.  You can state zero accidents but never do anything about it.  But, if you are serious about safety and will do whatever it takes to make sure no one gets hurt, then state that no accidents are acceptable at all.  Set the goal to zero.

I have been apart of a couple of companies that took safety very seriously.  One company had every computer boot up and display the corporate safety metrics, goals, and recent accident reports.  No one could turn this off.  It was visual and created a lot of talk about safety each and every day.  The display showed the current Year-To-Date metrics for every facility.  The company backed up this talk by spending money on safety whenever it was needed.  I can’t even recall a Return-On-Investment study ever being completed.  Also, every meeting had to start with a safety tip.  It might be a work safety tip, ergonomic tip, or a safety tip for home.  Not matter what safety was suppose to start every meeting.

Another facility I worked for won one of the worldwide safety awards after three years of improving to a near zero accident facility.  The plant manager never even hesitated to spend the money if it was truly going to help safety.  Employees were self policing their areas for near misses.  Safety was very important.

Neither company could ever some out and state a goal of zero accidents.  They might state a goal of 2 accidents for the year.  Why not just go ahead and say zero?  What is the hang up with stating this goal?

Money wasn’t just thrown at safety issues in the cases I mentioned.  There was a lot done without spending a dime.  I bring the issue of spending money because I have seen companies ask for a ROI study or payback on things that will improve safety.  Sometimes the improvement is to prevent an accident or injury that might occur.  How do you justify that?

The point is NO injury is acceptable.  Lets have the respect for the people and say that.  Let the people know we do care about their safety.

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