Saturday, April 21, 2007

Designers beware: 5S Phase 3, Seiso (Clean)

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

But first, if you’re seeing this article and haven’t read the previous three:
Introduction to the methodology
Phase one, Select
Phase two, Organize

Last week I covered Seiton, where we organized and decided the place for everything. The next phase, Seiso, is about cleaning. Though the methodology lists Seiso as the third phase, it’s possible to clean before you decide where things go.

Phase three, Clean

The purpose of this phase is to eliminate the sources of dirt and to find potentially dangerous areas (i.e. too many plugs in an outlet). When you clean:

- The workplace is a great place to work.
- Things are ready to be used, when needed.
- Cleaning becomes a daily habit.
- Potential safety risks can be addressed.

Now for the exercise:

Step 1: Get ready
Get your supplies like rags and cleaning products and have them ready beforehand.

Step 2: Clean
Pretty straightforward, right? Make sure to be thorough and don’t forget those out of reach places that nobody wants to clean.

Step 3: Place
Place every item in the work area in their decided location.

Step 4: Audit
Once everybody has cleaned their work area, allow for some time, maybe half an hour, in which each person questions how clean every work place is and uses the red labels again, if it’s the case, meaning, if something shouldn’t be in that spot or could be relocated.

And that’s it for this phase!

In industrial environments it has a bigger impact because operators learn more about their machines and see potential industrial risks, like leaks and parts that aren’t working properly, but that’s material for other posts.

By now you’re already seeing the benefits of applying the 5S and if you’ve really embraced it, you’ll notice that you’ve started questioning how other people keep their desks or their houses, haven’t you?

As I said in the first 5S post, you’ll never be the same!

So meet me here next time to cover Phase 4, Seiketsu (Standardize).
All the best!

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