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Why 5S Isn't What It's Cracked-Up To Be

Posted On - 06/01/2017 13:26:48


Keith Findlay Talks 5S & Visual Workplace
If you're an IT SME into hardware it's likely you've a workshop. Somewhere you spend a lot of time getting hands-on with computers. You love building or repairing them – it's why you do this job. Manuals? What! Hell, you're an expert. You can do this stuff in your sleep.

But if you've ever mislaid tools or parts, knocked stuff over or be surprised by what you've found looking for something else you've no small problem. Sure, you may be brilliant with computers but boy, are you in a mess.

More out, less in

5S is a system that can help. It's an approach for removing waste and creating efficiency. It's linked to the work you do but comes at it in a particular way. Because it's more about where you work and less about what you're working on.

5S is about setting up and equipping your workshop so it makes you even better at whatever job you're doing. So you never mislay or lose anything again. Never knock anything over and always know where everything is. Keith Findlay from Productivity Leaders came along to our 2016 Open Day to explain what it is. To see what he had to say watch the video of his session. And if you'd like to learn even more about 5S and why it's worth doing read on.

Sort, Set, Shine, Standardise and Sustain

5S's right? But before you kick-back at the prospect of getting chapter and verse hold on. We're not going to grind through each ‘S' and what to do. There's no point – Keith does it brilliantly. And if that's not enough Google it – there's websites-a-plenty. No, we're going to do what's harder to find elsewhere – we're going to spell out the benefits of 5S. About what doing it does for you.

Let's face it, what the chuff is there in spring cleaning your workshop once a week? Labelling everything in pretty colours? Marking out spaces and walkways? Putting tools up on fancy shadow-boards? And not only all that, regularly going round and inspecting it all! Yep, take on 5S and you'll end up doing these. It'd better be worth it.

5S reduces waste, improves productivity and well being

When your workspace is completely clutter free, only equipped for the job you're doing, and set out so it's not only clear where tools and parts are, they're handy with the minimum of movement, you're cooking. You're in the zone.

Think about it. No faffing about looking for things – everything's obvious. No perching on the edge of a workbench – there's space a-plenty. No jobs lurking on the bench to harass and distract you – you can concentrate on the one you're doing. No working through your tools to find the exact one you want – only the right ones are available. No getting up to go find your soldering iron – it's already there.

The result? Work gets done faster. Work gets done better. More work gets done right-first-time. You get less frustrated and feel under less pressure. Still feel 5S isn't worth it?

5S clears the mess, sorts things out and gets you organised

Over time you do all kinds of jobs. A bench that's been used to service an old desktop, replace the screen on a mobile, build a new gaming rig and upgrade a laptop to SSD will show the signs. Add in the spudger you bent last month, bits of solder from who-knows-when, your broken multi-meter and the shelves of old computers picked up over the years and you can see where chaos comes from.

Scrap parts, tools you only need every so often - you name it, a workshop earning its living gets untidy fast. But all that mess takes up space and gets in the way. It nags you: when will you ‘break' those old computers and sell them on ebay?

Sorting everything out, chucking the scrap, recycling what isn't as well as having a place for everything and keeping everything in it means all that goes. Still feel 5S isn't worth it?

5S improves maintenance meaning less downtime

One of the 5S's is Shine – remember? It's about keeping stuff clean. Now, given we've visited repair centres with floors caked in mud and shops with dusty display shelves we know some of you think this OCD [yes, these are true].

But if this is you think again - there's more to this than being able to eat your dinner of a workbench, it makes commercial sense. When you clean something you do more than get rid of the dirt, you examine it as you do. So you notice things you wouldn't have unless you did.

Cleaning means you notice the nick in the cable on your soldering iron. The twist on a screwdriver. The loose connection on a monitor. The bend in your crimping pliers. The loose screws on the bench.

Keeping things clean makes you better at upkeep. It reduces breakdowns so you're fully productive when you need it most. Still feel 5S isn't worth it?

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