Sunday, April 15, 2007

Designers beware: 5S Phase 2, Seiton (Organize)

Welcome back to my series on 5S, the methodology to improve organization, order and cleanliness. In this article I cover the second phase, Organize.

But first, if you want to go back to the two previous articles:
Introduction to the methodology
Phase one, Select

Let’s pick up where we left off. Last week I talked about Seiri, to select. At the end of the exercise we had two piles of stuff:

Pile C: The stuff that needs to be in the work space.
Pile D: The stuff that is needed, but not in the immediate work area.

Phase two, Organize

The purpose of this phase is to assign the correct place for each item.

- This will eliminate unnecessary movement because the needed elements are nearby.
- You’ll find elements quicker.
- Error is reduced.
- There are visible clues of where the elements are placed and their quantity.
- The basis for standardization is laid out.

Now for the exercise:

Step 1: Classify
Think about how often you use each item according to the following criteria:

- Infrequent: Things that are used monthly. These can be placed further from the working area.
- Frequent: Things that are used weekly. These can be placed inside the nearby area.
- Very frequent: Things that are used daily. These should be placed in the working area.

Step 2: Quantify
Determine how much of each item is needed in the place where they will be stored. For instance, you may need one black marker on your desk, not five, so the other four can go to the supplies room. Now how many should there be in the supplies room?

Step 3: Place
Determine the exact place where each item goes according to the task they’re used for. Elements needed for the task performed in the specific work area should be inside it.

Group elements according to:
- Process, if they’re used during a specific task, keep them together.
- Function, things that are used for the same purpose, should be kept together.
- Order, things that are used in a certain order, should be placed in a way that will reflect it.

Step 4: Evaluate
Ask yourself:
- Is it obvious when something is missing from its spot?
- Is it obvious when something is there, that shouldn’t be there?
- Do the objects that can be moved, return to their spot?
- Is it visible when you’re running out of supplies?

This step could even include visual clues like contour lines around the spot where things are stored, tags, or quantity indicators to show the maximum amount and the minimum amount so that a new order can be placed.

* This image from the eBook “Estrategia de las 5S” produced by Advanced Productive Solutions, S.L.

Step 5: Audit
Once everybody has decided the place where everything goes, allow for some extra time, perhaps half an hour, so that everybody can question each other using red labels again. All items marked with red labels need to be relocated within the next few days.

Some additional thoughts:

It is likely that by now you’ve realized that you don’t actually need some of the things you thought you needed. In that case, you can do any of the following actions:

- Store it somewhere else.
- Move it inside the area.
- Sell it.
- Rent it.
- Return it.
- Trash it.

If it’s not needed for the task, it shouldn’t be there. Ideally the only things that should be on a desk is the computer, the immediate supplies like a pen and paper, and the stuff that you’re currently working on. Extra supplies can go in drawers.
Also, don’t forget to document the process with your digital camera.

I want to point out that in the cases of personal offices and desks, 5S is a process that every person needs to assimilate in their own way. Some people are attached to objects that for others have no significant value and this needs to be respected. Each person should take 5S as far as they feel is comfortable for them. For instance, I don’t need to have pictures of every member of my family on my desk; some people do. So beware that everybody has their own pace and nobody is allowed to decide for somebody else in this methodology.

So that’s all for today. Join me here next time to cover Phase 3, Seiso (Clean).

In the meantime let me leave you with this thought: Do you think this can be applied to, say, email, your computer desktop, the closet, the pantry?

All the best!


Daniel Sitter said...

Hi Carolina,

I am so glad I discovered your blog! My official degree is Industrial management, though I make my living in technical sales, marketing and writing.

I too have involvement in various approaches to lean manufacturing.

Keep writing, you have style!

Best regards,
Daniel Sitter

Carolina Ayerbe said...

Thanks so much for your comment, Daniel! Please keep coming back to my blog! I appreciate all feedback. All the best, Carolina.