5S, for many the basis of Lean Manufacturing thinking, for others just a way to keep their desk or workplace clean. Through 5 steps (Separate - Arrange - Clean - Standardise - Maintain), this method ensures a well-maintained workplace, where order and standards ensure efficient operation. These "simple" standards allow everyone in the company to learn to work with standard work and the associated culture of continuous improvement.
But wait, 5S, hasn't that been around since the 1950s? What's so innovative about that? Well actually nothing. But thanks to the current trends of digitisation and mass customisation, 5S is again burning hot.
Now that everything can be found digitally, we can store a lot more data. So today we have masses of mails, reports, calculations and action lists on the computer. And most probably in some complex folder structure or on a hard-to-understand sharepoint. Not to mention our hundreds of folders in outlook. Although this is all virtual, it is not difficult to trace back the scope of 5S.
In addition, there is the need for an increasingly diverse product portfolio, as every customer wants a (slightly) different product. This new complexity causes an explosion in product parameters in the ERP systems (how well are they maintained?), but also often goes hand in hand with a growing order book. Here, too, 5S can provide relief to clear backlogs, get priorities clear and even guarantee an improvement in OTIF (On Time-In Full).
But 5S itself can also benefit from the capabilities of apps. For instance, one of our customers recently made a significant efficiency improvement by digitising their entire 5S rounds process in 1 app. Not only did the quality of the report improve, but the rounds themselves take less time and the administration afterwards is almost completely eliminated. In short, a saving of several hours per month.
So 5S may be an old tool from the lean toolbox, but with current market trends, it is certainly not worn out. And that's precisely what we pay close attention to at Stanwick: how can existing tools be deployed in the rapidly changing context in which our customers are agitating? In recent years, for instance, we applied 5S to eliminate company backlogs, clean out order books and helped to digitise 5S rounds.