Competency Management: Training for polyvalence in the workplace. Part III

Changeing Company Culture

This post is part of a series blog on Standardization, part II on job observation and Gemba walk and in particular, part I entitled What is Standardization and Digital Work Instructions?.

After seeing the importance of having work standards in all our activities, and the importance of practicing Job Observation by Managers of the company and/or the Workshop, we are talking now about the management of people’s competencies, their training, and their polyvalence, so we can get to the point where:

  • We have robust standards that must be applied by all personnel with a digital work instructions tool.
  • We keep the standards “alive” with the aid of Job Observation and improvement. See our blog What is Job Observation: Genchi Genbutsu and Gemba Walks.
  • We implement the “3-stage training” of standards to all stakeholders using the “I do, we do, you do” technique.
  • We define the operational requirements of each process/activity and the competency levels of each person.
  • We prepare polyvalence plans in anticipation of the company’s needs, the Polyvalence Matrix.

The 3-Stage Training

From the Standardization management tools and in particular digital work instructions, it is essential to ensure the training of workers for all required activities.

It is of great responsibility to ensure such training, therefore, it is a fundamental task of the team leader (Team Leader or Group Leader).

According to specialists in cognitive psychology, we are able to understand and retain:

  • 10% of what we read
  • 20% of what we hear
  • 30% of what we observe
  • 50% of what we observe and hear
  • 70% of what we say
  • 90% of what we do

On-the-job training is an act of strong management, carried out by the hierarchy of the person being trained. To ensure maximum effectiveness of the training, the following ritual should be followed to ensure I do, We do, You do:

1.- Training Preparation:

  • Make sure that the training meets a need identified in the Polyvalence Matrix and linked to the person’s current competencies
  • The trainer (Team Leader) performs the operation himself (or with the support of a senior operator) to remember the operating method
  • Verify that the standard (work instruction) is understandable and up-to-date
  • Ensure that the quality requirements are in proper working order before moving on to the next position
  • Check The station is in accordance with its reference state: available parts and tools, safety features, etc…

Note: it may be possible to prepare the training on a mock-up simulating a workstation.

2.- I DO

The Team Leader does the operation:

  1. Explain the operation to the person trained:
    • Say which operation is to be executed
    • Identify the person’s existing knowledge of the operation
    • Explain the importance of the operation
    • Ensure that the operator is well positioned to hear instructions
    • Present the parts, tools, and machines to be used
  2. Show how to perform the operation:
    • The Team Leader must carry out the operation himself (or with the support of a senior operator), scrupulously respecting the standard, highlighting the main steps, the key points, what is forbidden and why, and what to do in case of anomalies

3.- We DO

The Team Leader must make the operator do the operation, remaining at his side:

  1. Have the operator perform the operation, repeating the main steps, the key points, and the reasons for the key points in a loud voice
  2. Immediately correct any deviation from the standard operating mode
  3. Repeat until the operator has completely memorized the operation

4.- You DO

The Team Leader must let the operator go it alone, and ensure follow-up:

  1. Ask an experienced (senior) operator or the Team Leader to supervise the beginner operator
  2. Encourage the operator to ask any questions, and confirm that he/she knows who to contact for this purpose
  3. Leave the operator to do the operation alone
  4. Frequent monitoring

5.- End of Training:

  1. Organize the follow-up of the beginner operator by a senior operator to ensure that no error leaves the workstation
  2. Verify that the operator always respects the work standard, knows the key points and their reasons, keeping the target time of the operation
  3. The Team Leader must update the polyvalence matrix (ILUO) with the accreditation of the new operator

The operational requirements of each process

The need to ensure the activities in all workplaces requires us to establish a set of criteria, in which we can detail the operational requirements, for example:

  • Process: Designation of the activity: Positioning parts on tooling
  • Operation: Performed by the operator or by machine: Correct adjustment or positioning
  • Standard working conditions: Positioned according to standard form (work instruction)
  • Quality assurance features: correct functioning of the proximity sensors
  • Level of difficulty of the operation: A, difficult operation, B, moderately difficult operation, C, easy operation
  • Estimated learning time of the operation: 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, etc…
  • Basic knowledge required: e.g. general electromechanics, FP1
  • Technical skills acquired: skill level, knowledge of the machine, tooling, adjustments, etc…

The Polyvalence Matrix (ILUO): ask experts

Polyvalence is essential to guarantee Quality, Customer Service and to contribute to solving the impacts caused by absenteeism.

The Multipurpose Matrix (ILUO), allows the team leader to know, anticipate and plan for the development of your team’s competencies based on the needs of the processes:

The matrix, in addition to showing us the current state of the training of the entire team, serves as a training planner. It is a tool at the service of the team leader and managed by him. It allows him to formalize the level of competence of each operator on the standard of each position, according to 4 levels of maturity:

It should always appear:

  • Who?
  • What operation?
  • What level?
  • Time frame, case of planning

Three levels of maturity of an operator in a job are defined: I, L, U and O:

  • I: Is capable of executing the standard operation in the defined time, under normal conditions, and following the instructions
  • L: It is capable of executing standard operations autonomously, including anomaly treatment
  • U: Is capable of instructing others in the standard according to the 3-step training method, as well as proposing improvements
  • O: Train the trainers

In addition, in the Matrix we will make appear:

  • The incumbent of each position
  • The planned date of training or change of level (planning mode)

EXAMPLE mlean matrix
H3 Simple and digital implementation of the Multipurpose Matrix (ILUO):
In our long experience, the implementation of the Matrix (usually in Excel), has serious management and updating difficulties. We understand that it is necessary to make life easier for team leaders (it is their responsibility), who are already burdened with administrative tasks.


What is Job Observation: Genchi Genbutsu and Gemba Walks. Part II

What is Job Observation: Genchi Genbutsu and Gemba Walks

This post is part of a series blog on Standardization. See part I on visual work instructions and part III on competence management.

To start positioning ourselves, and as we said in our 1st blog series about standardization, in phase C (Check) of the Deming PDCA cycle we had to do “The Job Observation”:

What is Job Observation

Ensuring the robustness of standardization is the main challenge. If you remember in the previous post we defined the best way to digitally standardize any activity. This is only the beginning, or rather it is the basis of our continuous improvement methodology since the ultimate goal of standardization is to make its accomplishment rigorous (whatever the stakeholder is), and at the same time be the basis of continuous improvement for any activity.

Job Observation is a tool that helps us achieve several goals. In this post, we will look at the different types of Job Observation methodologies, which will help us to:

  • Keep the standards “alive”
  • Ensure standards are followed and respected
  • Identify problems of any kind that affect the quality, productivity, ergonomics, safety, etc., of people or goods
  • Be able to identify opportunities for improvement of the standards
  • Identify training opportunities
  • Identify opportunities for “Kaizen” type improvement studies

How to do job observations effectively?

There are many ways to do job observations, but in order to make it effective, here are the main tools that we would like to propose:

  • “Genchi Genbutsu”
  • Gemba Walks
  • The 3 types of observation by managers:
    • Planned Observation
    • Observation for an unexpected event
    • Reflective Observation

What is “Genchi Genbutsu”

Genchi Genbutsu (“Go see yourself”) are Japanese words that are part of the TPS (Toyota Production System). This tool is especially recommended for managers, and it is based on the following concept: for any inefficiency, go to the source and see by yourself and with your own eyes, and if possible be also accompanied by your team. It is a basic principle for dealing with problems: go and observe the place or process where the problem has been detected. If this is clear to us, half of the problem is already solved. Managers must show the importance of working with “Facts and Data” and not with opinions or perceptions (whether they are interested or not) from third parties.

What are “Gemba Walks”

Gemba Walks, or maybe more known as plant tours, follow the same basic concept of Genchi Genbutsu, which has the same origin in the TPS. Gemba Walks are also very oriented to managers within companies with a strong Lean orientation. Gemba or “Place of great value”, is the place where things happen, and where we can perceive reality with the 5 senses and understand the current situation in the environment where they happen.

Gemba Walks should be done routinely, and the leaders of any organization should integrate them into their daily tasks. They get to know the day-to-day life of the place where the added value is generated and become familiar with the issues. The purpose of this practice is not to solve problems, make judgments, or give orders to change the results but to generate the spirit of detection and continuous improvement that will ultimately lead to solving the problems. This is critical. 

We must also congratulate the teams when the results are positive. These “walks” will allow us to strengthen our relationship with our collaborators and to detect non-value-added tasks, trends to correct, patterns and problems that have not been analyzed, but also good practices and points of interest among other things.

Principles of job observation

1. Observing is working:

During the time spent observing, we are focused on it and therefore it is a time that we devote to observation, no other activity should distract us from observation, so forget about cell phones and WhatsApp. This activity, which is fundamental for all managers, should be a daily activity and should last at least 30 minutes a day.

2. Attitudes and behaviors of the managers during the observation:

  • Be unavailable for external calls
  • Prepare the documents
  • Remember the standards
  • Go to the workstation and inform the operator
  • Observe the operation from a distance several times
  • Closely observe the position
  • Dialogue with the operator
  • Make a balance and action plan

Job Observation, Gemba Walks and Genchi Genbutsu

3. Observe with the 5 senses:

  • Taste (mainly for the food industry)
  • Hearing: noises, rustling…
  • Touch: vibrations, temperature…
  • Vision: leaks, dirt…
  • Smell: Smells of burning, chemical products…

4. Observation Filters:

We can make our observations in a general way in a job or we may want to establish a specific focus. When we focus, we are able to see many more opportunities for improvement. Here are some examples of approaches:

  • Quality
  • Safety
  • Productivity
  • Compliance with standards
  • Production of defects
  • Dirt, leaks
  • Displacements
  • Maintenance
  • Etc…

5. The 4 M’s:

The methodology we adopt must integrate the 4 M’s from the 5M Model (the M of Medium or Environment will be integrated into the rest of the M’s):

  • Manpower (people):
    • Compliance with standards
    • Training
    • Etc…
  • Method:
    • Work standard, or control
    • Operating times
    • Displacements
    • Useless gestures
    • Etc…
  • Material:
    • Defects
    • Stocks
    • Procurement
    • Identification
    • Etc…
  • Means (machine, tooling):
    • Driving standards
    • Idem maintenance
    • Reliability
    • Media capacity
    • Etc…

6. Geographic perimeters:

  • The environment of the workstations or production lines:
    • Overview to appreciate weaknesses in the environment of the workstations, identification of aisles, forklift crossings, identification of fluids, emergency or evacuation exits, lighting, etc…
  • General view of a machine or process:
    • Overview of the machine or production line, how it is driven, maintained, repaired, how non-conformities are identified, etc…
    • Find the most relevant weak points of our machine that affect the results.
  • Particular focus on what is most relevant:
    • Where a defect occurs and why
    • Detail of the standards that affect our problem
    • The training of an operator
    • Etc…

The 3 types of observation:

1. Planned observation:

This is the observation that is planned and part of a routine.

  • All Managers must perform their observations frequently. It is a fundamental routine in the daily management of any organization. Remember that observing is also working.
  • Observation by a Team Leader must be on a daily basis. The rest of the manager levels, will determine their frecuency, but it should be at least once a week and they should perfom it jointly with their lower levels.

2. Circumstantial observation:

This is the observation which comes as the consequence of a specific event, which can be:

    • An accident
    • The break of a medium or tool
    • A quality defect identification
    • Etc…

3. Reflex observation:

It is the “Ideal” situation: all the personnel while in the Gemba, is observing in a natural way and is able to visualize any anomalous state. The 4 M’s are integrated in their 5 senses and while walking through any point of the factory, they are able to visualize anomalies or aspects to improve.

Observing is a management tool, and thus, it must be routinely trained.

How to digitally manage the Observation?

It has been proven that carrying out an observation routine is cumbersome. It generates a multitude of papers, Excel sheets, checklists, etc… that must then be transferred to the computer… (which becomes “a pain”). The management must afterward extract the conclusions of the observations, a multitude of actions, and people in charge, with very difficult management and control of all of them. In our opinion, the solution lies in a set of applications that digitally enable all of the above effortlessly and are capable of being tracked at the required level.

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What is Standardization and Digital Work Instructions? Part I

What are digital work instructions?

This post is part of a series blog on Standardization. See part II on job observation and Gemba Walks and part III on competency management.

Let’s start this post with some quotes that I think are particularly relevant to introducing the concepts of Standard Work and Standardization in Lean projects:

  • Taiichi Ohno (1912-1990):
    • “There is no improvement possible without standard. The beginning of all improvement is knowing exactly where you are.”
    • “Something is wrong if workers don’t observe daily, find things that are tedious or ineffective, and then rewrite the standards. Even last month manual should be out of date.”
    • “The standard is a living document that may be in continuous evolution, subject to the P(S)DCA improvement cycle.”
  • Masaaki Imai in his book Gemba Kaizen:
    • “The standard is the starting point for improvement. Always after a Kaizen, we will have either an improvement of the current standard or a new standard.”

What is Standardization?

As a reminder, one definition of Standardization would be: “The Standard is the best currently known way of working which allows us to achieve quality, cost and delivery objectives while guaranteeing people’s safety” Therefore:

  • It must be common to all people (new employees, old employees, etc.).
  • It must be defined in such a way as to ensure the efficiency, regularity, and rationality of operations, in the pursuit of operational excellence.
  • The Lean Standard is designed to develop learning

“Anyone” must be able to master it through training and coaching. Training is understood as the practice of skills.

I remember the panic caused by the maternity leave of a colleague, very competent in her activities, which we were able to solve with no issues in time thanks to the construction by herself of work standards that served to train two people. This is the key: we create standards so that they can be used to train others and avoid variability or non-quality (reworks, scrap, etc….among others)

Standardization helps to avoid variability between people and avoid working in firefighter mode, avoiding falling into a vicious circle, in which we do not have time to train and generate quality problems and wastage. It sounds very common, but the construction of the standards by the actors of the activity itself favors the creativity of the people to be in a permanent search for the improvement of the standard. In addition, we will capitalize on the best practices in the standard.

For years we have been making standards by hand, i.e. on paper, which entails an arduous and tedious activity of having to write down each standard, with its key points, what is prohibited and why, and what to do in case of anomalies, etc. Oh, and then keeping them up to date! This is a difficulty that requires a lot of time and resources for companies, which they often do not have, and it is done poorly. We often find obsolete standards that do not serve to train teams.

One of the main problems we face is managing teams, especially when your company grows. But the more your company grows, the more difficult it is to work efficiently with all employees. This is where standardization becomes essential to reach each and every one of them with robust standards. Today, with the visual work instructions tools, such as mlean -Visual Standard –, we achieve several very important advantages:

  • Absence of paper or Excel…
  • Instructions for digital standards
  • Construction of these with the actors themselves and in the field.
  • Ease of paperless change management
  • Ease of training people through videos
  • Elimination of misinterpretation, a way of looking at it throughout the enterprise(s)
  • Savings on translations
  • Etc…

What are digital work instructions?

Visual Standard, (mlean’s digital work instructions tool), is a tool that allows you to transfer information about standard work practices using visual media, mainly videos. In other words, it is a way to visually communicate your company’s know-how processes through a method that requires almost no prior training. It is easy to create and to change on the fly or as we change the process. The key point is how with this tool, you speed up the learning process and the readiness of your team.

And why should it be visual? Visual information is much more accessible than text. Only 10% of people remember what they hear and only 20% remember what they read. However, more than 80% of people remember what they saw and did.

Standardization Objectives

As the main objectives for which we would implement standardization, we can highlight the following:

  • Troubleshooting
  • Process improvement
  • Generation of higher yields
  • Activity and context management
  • Results improvement
  • Reduction of indirect and direct costs
  • Process automation

What is Standardization

Standardization benefits

The Benefits of Standard Work are many and we are not listing them all. In addition, standardization improves the entire internal and external process of the company bringing innumerable advantages and benefits that, on many occasions, go unnoticed. Some of the main benefits would be:

  • Ensures correct performance of the work
  • Reduce costs
  • Reduces time
  • Streamlines and shortens processes
  • Improve the quality of the service or product
  • Enables better forecasts and predictions
  • Allows us to better adapt to changes in the environment
  • Promotes corporate culture
  • Allows for greater liberalization of management

Why use digital work instructions?

So we have already seen the objectives and benefits of standardization, and work instructions are a key part of it, so let’s dive into some advantages of digital work instructions with more new concrete cases that will only translate into efficiency, knowledge sharing and time savings for the plant.


Request a demo of mlean Digital Work Instructions Tool

Reduction of training times

Imagine your company hires two new employees. For the first few weeks, they will need someone to teach them how to do each task, and while this experienced person is teaching them their various jobs are not being done. This specific situation leads to a lack of efficiency that can be easily solved by implementing digital work instructions such as Visual Standard. Or let’s go further: Your company may hire a worker who may not speak your language as well as you would like, which makes teaching them even more difficult and less efficient. The solution is the same: video work instructions. They may not understand you perfectly, but they will understand you with pictures or videos and with the ability to show sequences of what he/she has to accomplish. Plus, the savings in time and money in translation, in sending instructions made, for example, in a factory in France in French to a plant in Poland. The saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” has never been so true.

Reduction in paper use

Another good point that will make you decide on digital work instructions is that you will digitize the work in the factory through the use of tablets -among other electronic devices- and eliminate the use of outdated paper versions, improving the transfer of knowledge throughout the organization. Thus, any updated information will now be available to every worker who requires it, improving communication between teams and above all instantly! You will avoid many trips to the computer to change the document, print it, and place it on the workstations. That is, you will do it right where the changes are happening and the change will be in real-time.

Other advantages of digital work instructions

However, it’s not all about sharing and creating standards – which is great – it’s also about stopping and preventing anomalies from occurring on the shop floor. As soon as a problem occurs, the operator will alert through the visual system and let the right person know what the problem is, even more, where it is occurring. Thus, once this system is fully implemented, anomalies could be prevented.

It is said that one thing leads to another: safety. When you have reduced setup times for each operator, reduced errors on the shop floor, and eased the transfer of information – leading to a greater understanding within the organization – you have invested not only in efficiency but also in safety. Safety of the individual and of the assets. And that is an important issue to keep in mind.

How to implement Digital Work Instructions?

To implement the digital instructions we will proceed as before, i.e. we will rely on the SDCA cycle:

  • S: Setting the standard
  • D: Applying the standard and training people
  • C: Check, observation of compliance with the standard and search for improvement opportunities
  • A: Improve the standard, correct deviations, and implement improvements

The work instructions in Visual Standard will include all the aspects that we have on paper:

  • Main stages, key points, reasons for the key points
  • What is prohibited and why
  • What to do in case of anomaly
  • Operation times
  • Others…

We will continue to rely on the 4 principles of economy of movement and the observation of the 7 wastes for its creation, therefore, in its construction, nothing changes!

The main advantage of visual work instructions is that we will do it on a tablet in the field, without paper, with the team leader and his operators. The savings in management time is estimated at more than 50%.

As for the implementation of people training, with these digital work instructions – Visual Standard – it will be much more effective, as we have indicated above. Then it is clear that the great advantage of having a digital library of standardized processes is that it is very easy to manage and keep up to date. This way, we are generating information that is available when we need it at any time. Whether to consult previous processes or to create new ones, there will always be a single database with reliable information.

How to manage Standardization Management?

In the following blog posts we will discuss how to manage the standardization management with more digital products in our standardization solution:

Request a demo

If you are thinking about implementing a visual work instructions tool in your company, have a look at mlean Visual Standard solution asking for a demo that will give you the whole picture of how we can help you become more efficient, share knowledge, and have robust standards.

Start digitizing your Shop Floor

What is 5S?

What is 5S

You may have heard about 5S in manufacturing and the importance to maximize efficiency on the shop floor. It seems that these deep-rooted methodologies are outdated. The truth is that mature industries continue using them today in their daily routines. So, to clarify how 5S can do you for you in your personal life and in the 21st century industries, this is a quick lecture on what is 5S is and why it is so relevant still today to create standards at work or at home. In other words, it is critical to understand 5S as a set action to achieve a result (this means excellence in everyday). If you are looking for tools to implemt a 5s model, read about our 5S tool.

Origin of 5S

5S is an organization system in the workplace whose purpose is to make as easy and efficient as possible the tasks within the factory. The 5S origin comes from the Toyota ‘s Production System which was developed by Tahichi Ohno during the 60s in Japan. Its five S come from five Japanese words which are Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu and Shitsuke. Or, translated, Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. These five words correspond to five phases that must be followed by any company which promotes the 5S philosophy.

Since the Toyota Production System popularity –at first this 5S system was a very well-kept secret– benefits brought to organizations were so many:

  • Higher quality in the final product
  • Reduced costs in production
  • Increase in productivity
  • Greater employee satisfaction
  • Safer work environment.

From this last point, a 6th S has become popular in the last decades, the S for Safety, which many companies have embraced it as the 6th S.

Steps of the 5S

But, Let´s review what each phase involves and what is particularly important in each step:

Sort or Seiri

The basis of this first step is to determine what materials, equipment and tools need to be present in the workplace, removing everything that is unnecessary for the daily work routines. To do a good job in this phase, we will first have to set the frequency of use of each item. For sure, there are no better ones to do this task than the workers in each workspace. Workers must consider which tools are really needed and, with those ones that are not. This takes us to the process of red tagging or assign a red sticker or cardboard tag (filled with some information such as the location of the item, a description, and the date) so it can be stocked until it becomes necessary again. It also can be shelved if we believe it won’t be used anymore. The following example will help you to start your tour on 5S implementation.

The correct application of this first S is essential to avoid waste, if we keep unnecessary materials, equipment and/or tools, this will have a negative impact on the following S implementation: 2nd S = we will define and mark a space for them, 3rd S = we will define a cleaning plan for them, 4th S= we will unnecessarily apply standards, 5th S we will apply improvement actions or carry out audits on these elements unnecessarily.

What is 5S: Sort

Set in order or Seiton

It consists of organizing the storage for an efficient use defining what arrangements are most logical. And how? By thinking through tasks and the frequency those tasks must be done. The final goal of this phase is to have an efficiently organized work area.

It consists of organizing the best location for and efficient use of the workstation, defining which layouts are the most logical. A place for everything and everything in its place. And how? Thinking about the tasks, their sequence and how often they must be done. The goal of this phase is to have an efficiently organized work area:

  1. Where the safety of people in their movements / displacements prevail
  2. Where the frequency of use of the objects/pieces is defined
  3. Where the 4 principles of movement economy are integrated (pillars of standardization):
    • Reduce the number of moves
    • Simultaneity of movements (work with both hands)
    • Reduce travel distances
    • Make movements easier and more ergonomic
    • And using FIFO principles for some consumables, etc.…

Once the location has been determined, it is about imagining what is fair and necessary, so that:

  • there is no doubt what is found on each site
  • the absence of an object from its place is instantly noticed

The potential necessary stocks necessary for the proper functioning of the sector will also be calculated as fair and necessary and will be clearly defined.

The location defined for each of these elements, materials, equipment, and tools will be marked according to the standard colors to guarantee visual control of them (Visual Control) This stage therefore must:

  • Ensure accessibility to the position and all the elements
  • Use shapes, colors, identifying symbols
  • Avoid closed cabinets
  • Visually signal the areas of passage and stocks
  • Delimit all the spaces

Shine or Seiso

It refers to something as simple -and sometimes ignored- as cleaning up the work area. The critical part here is to identify the dirtiness source to eliminate, as a note, the cleanest is not the one that cleans the most, but the one that pollutes the least. But it involves not only the basic cleaning, but also regular maintenance work is also essential and must be planned to prevent breakdowns and accidents. An important point would be every employee paying attention to the basic cleaning and not leaving all this work to cleansers. Through the act of cleaning we:

  • Make our work environment more pleasant (there is no quality work in a rundown, dirty or inadequate environment)
  • Prevent the risk of breakdowns (allows repairs before failure)
  • Prevent the risk of accidents
  • Prevent parts damage
  • Examine the state of production means and detect anomalies

In summary:

  1. Identify sources of dirt
  2. Develop cleaning standards
  3. Simplification of cleaning by elimination of the dirt causes
  4. To reach an added value cleaning, it detects anomalies (sources of dirt)

Some hints to keep the workstation clean:

  • Have hoods / casings to avoid projections
  • Elimination of blowing in favor of aspirations
  • Implementation of a rational circulation of liquids/parts through channels
  • Control of the organs that can contaminate (barrels, drums, etc.…)
  • Ergonomics and easy access to cleaning points

What are the 5s, Lean Manufacturing

Standardize or Seiketsu

The objective of the first 3 “S” is to be able to build the state of reference that leads to a first level of efficiency and the result of the workstations in terms of selection, order and cleanliness. Therefore, this is the first step of the 4th S Standardize.

Once the state of reference has been reached, standardization is essential (but not sufficient) to combat the natural tendency to neglect and return to old (or even bad) practices.

After applying the first 3 S we have caused a break in our PDCA of Continuous Improvement. Here comes our 4th S Standardize that is:

  • Formalized the state of reference (photographs or sketches) is essential to detect a drift with respect to the “Standard” (the state of reference)
  • Activities necessary to ensure the maintenance of the Reference States:
    • Who does what, should be correctly defined
    • Create or modify operating methods regarding these activities: Depending on its complexity, each of these regular activities may require a specific writing operating mode, as created in Visual Standard for the job standardization
    • Formalize the rules of life (and behaviors in different situations)
    • Make the rules, instructions, risks, and prohibitions in the workplace visible
    • Define how to identify anomalies (labels or others)

It is essential that these activities indicated above are established by the protagonists of the area. To be consistent with the objective of 5S to give “those who do” the means to reconsider a work environment that is conducive to them, since “they are the ones who know“. Therefore, it is necessary for these daily activities, unfortunately little valued, to become natural practices and freely carried out.

After this standardization phase, the area can be tested with the visit of an outsider who must be able to quickly:

  • Understand the organization of the area
  • Visit without getting lost
  • Know the different tasks to be carried out in the different positions’, thanks only to the instructions that appear there
  • Do not put yourself in danger, do not take risks, or make others run them.
  • Adhere to the rules of life of the area
  • Communicate your observations and ideas

If this is the case, the degree of standardization achieved will be satisfactory.

To end this S, it is essential to have all the processes within the factory standardized which are the ones that will bring true efficiency to the company. We will stop continually reinventing the wheel, we will apply and standardize good practices throughout the value chain.

Then in the 5th S we will be able to see the closure of the PDCA Continuous Improvement loop.

Request a demo of mlean 5S Digital Tool

Sustain or Shitsuke

We would have achieved nothing if we were not able to keep our 5S system working. And that is only possible by involving everyone in the work organization, from managers to employees. For this reason, we must practice, practice and more practice…, and continuously improve the standards established in the previous “standardization” stage (above all, the state of reference), according to cycles of continuous improvement P(S)DCA:

  • “P” = Define the objectives and deadlines for putting the 5 S into practice
  • “S” = Permanently apply the established standards, both from the reference states and the rest
  • “DO” = train, apply and enforce the defined standards, detect, and identify any anomaly
  • “Check” = check the application of these standards and their effectiveness, observing the job, evaluating the practice of the 5S, measuring the results obtained (and comparing / set goals)
  • “Act” = analyze and, corrected the indicated anomalies, “ReAct” : define new sources of progress (endless…)

In a first phase of application of the first 3 S we achieve a “break”, and with it our first standards of the state of reference in a very short time. Then we must make it “live” daily in cycles of Continuous Improvement SDCA based on the opportunities for improvement that we find:

  • Observing the maintenance activities of the state of reference like in the Job Observation
  • Carrying out 5S audits. These audits can be crossed between different areas of the company
  • Reviewing established standards (or creating) with visual standard
  • Solving problems in a simple way by applying the 5 Whys
  • Carrying out continuous monitoring of the state of progress of the action plans like in the mPS Lean Center

We must show them this new way, this new system, make them understand this philosophy that must be part of the company’s culture. It can only be achieved if all employees make this philosophy their own. The 5S should be a long-term program, not a rehearsal. It is important to maintain everything applied previously and for this, both internal and external audits must be planned, the malfunctions and/or opportunities for improvement that are detected will be taken to the PDCA panel for resolution. The continuous application of these Audits will allow us to bring out new opportunities for improvement, the Improvement has no end.

What does Lean manufacturing have to do with 5S?

As a matter of fact, the 5S system is a foundational part of the lean manufacturing. Only once the 5S system begins to be part of the organizational culture of the company, initiatives such as kanban or kaizen can be implemented successfully. As a result, it would be hard trying to promote lean manufacturing in your workplace without a previous 5S culture.

What is 5S and how it influences Lean Manufacturing

Benefits of the 5S

However, it is not all about the benefits of the 5S, it is more about the harm of not working with 5S in your shop floor and the main consequences. Maybe the most important is that your company will not be able to compete with modern companies as they will have a huge structural difference. Do not forget that 5S is a starting point for a new way of organization that focuses on efficiency and optimization.

The search and maintenance of competitiveness in companies is not always carried out in a logical way, for example:

The best resources of the Company are dedicated to bargaining with the aim of not increasing salary costs, a lot of time and effort is dedicated for this. However it is understood as a great achievement to be able to reduce 0.25 or one 0.5% the expectations of increases demands by the social security portion, and assuming that this is something important.

However, we do not pay the same attention or resources to Mr. Process, in some cases because we do not visit it, in others because even Mr. Process speaks up to us, we hear it, but we do not listen to it. It is with Mr. Process where we can find the important opportunities for improvement, through which we will achieve our competitiveness.

If you ask me what % we are talking about, it would not be reckless on my part to estimate the improvement of the process by at least 30%. Surely this statement seems utopian to more than one, and others will think that perhaps it is possible in other companies but not in theirs. But my question to them would be, do you dare to find out?

You can’t imagine the waste that surrounds us, you can’t imagine the cost reduction opportunities that await you. Please don’t make them wait any longer, the future of the company and its workers depends on it.

Until 1999 the 5S were in the Japanese dynamics, especially linked to the TPM with the detection of anomalies (3rd S). We can therefore say that autonomous maintenance, a pillar of the TPM, is based on this basic (5thS) for its deployment… Nothing good (in terms of Quality, Cost, Delivery, Safety) can come out of a poorly organized, dirty or inadequate workstation; And this is true whatever the job is.

How to implement the 5S

When implementing a 5S work organization in your company’s shop floor, you are looking for a way to make the complex, just simple. And it can be done in several ways, but all of them need a tool to help you in this implementation process. mlean Production System® is a digital tool that brings you all what you are looking for. With the sole goal of increasing efficiency to the maximum, the workplace will never be the same. You know: Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. It’s time to start!

Request a Demo

If you want to implement a 5S methodology, the best option is to use a specific tool such as our 5S digital Tool. Request a demo of our 5S software and define the state of reference of the workstation or line, following the 5S methodology. Launch the audit to maintain the standard. The 5S product allows you to keep up-to-date references for your workbenches. It is an intuitive tool that is easy to use. Optimize your workspace and keep quality standards via multimedia content, maintenance plans, the creation and planning of actions and workbench audits.

Request a demo of mlean 5S Digital Tool