What better time than the start of a new year to make some changes to your business that are guaranteed to succeed and cost next to nothing?
So why not take Jim Lewis’ advice, he knows what he is talking about.
Lewis has worked in the furniture industry for more than 30 years, and in those years the independent, lean business consultant and author has focused his energy on helping companies transform their business and adopt the lean business philosophy.
In his seminar, ‘Extreme 5S – Workplace Organization on Steroids,’ Lewis has been sharing that knowledge about workplace organization.
Lewis said adopting a lean business philosophy is the single most important, profitable and –and this is the best part– cheapest improvement any business can implement.
Lewis will be the first to admit that what he is proposing is really nothing new. Lean manufacturing and 5S have been around for years. But he is advocating a lean business approach that will eliminate any extraneous events that prevent “the maximum utilization of existing resources.”
He mentions one company, which, after it implemented a lean business philosophy, tripled its output simply by maximizing its existing resources. There was no additional cost associated with these dramatic improvements.
Granted, this may be an extreme case and individual successes may vary, but Lewis says if done properly, the transformation can be significant.
And it doesn’t have to be difficult; there just needs to be a commitment to make it happen and then have it become ‘the’ way of doing business.
5S is a proven method to systematically organize, standardize, clean and maintain the workplace, Lewis says. It’s not something you do once and then forget it, it needs to be implemented and sustained, otherwise it’s a waste of time.
It all starts with enlisting all employees. Everyone has to be enabled, engaged, excited, empowered and encouraged to take part in the transformation.
The next step, according to Lewis, is to implement 5S.
• Sort: Separate needed items and instructions from unneeded items and remove the later.
• Set-in-Order: Neatly arrange and identify items for use.
• Shine: Conduct a cleanup campaign.
• Standardize: Conduct the above three in frequent (daily) intervals to maintain a perfect workplace.
• Sustain: Make certain the first four S’s are always followed.
Not only will 5S provide a safe, clean and more pleasant working environment, but it will also create workspace stability, establish continuity across shifts and lay the foundation for staff to be more productive, Lewis says.
There is less clutter in the workplace and people will spend less time looking for tools or parts, which makes the time needed to perform any given task much shorter.
Lewis says 5S philosophy can be summed up like this: A place for everything… Everything in its place!
“There is no doubt that every time you move a product or a tool in the shop without adding any value in the process, it is waste,” Lewis says.
He said the simple task of organizing the shop to ‘flow’ production properly and to locate any items – be they supplies or tools – to where they are needed, seems like such an obvious idea that it is surprising to see how many shops get it wrong.
Of course machines should be arranged in the order in which they are used in production, but even little things, such as labeling items and the locations where they must be put away after use, can make a big difference.
“If you have to look for a tool every time you want to use it, you waste valuable time,” says Lewis. “Why not designate and label a location and make sure the tool is returned there after use? Limiting locations will reduce chaos and confusion.”He also advocates labeling parts containers and storage areas, even shelves.
And if it all sounds a bit simplistic, Lewis guarantees the benefits will add up to significant improvements.
“They key is for you to manage the process instead of the process managing you.
“Once you are there, it is important to sustain what you have changed,” Lewis says. “It will take some time until ‘lean’ becomes a habit, but discipline will ensure success. Once you have eliminated all waste and non-value adding activities, you have established the foundation for success and you will be surprised by the positive impact on your business.”