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Topic Title: Difficulty in getting a department to embrace 5S
Topic Summary: Any advice on getting a specific workcenter to embrace the 5S process?
Created On: 10/03/2019 10:51 AM
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10/22/2019 06:30 AM
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Robert Spendlove

I am in charge of re-starting our 5S process in a manufacturing factory. A few years ago, we ran through the entire plant with a 5S program, but it was too brief and we ended up getting maybe 1.5 of the steps done. Today, if I say we need to 5s an area, people grab brooms. I know shine is in there, but it's such a low priority part of the overall project that I'd rather it not be in there.

I'm going to kickstart the project, but I have one department that can make or break our plant's 5S success - material handlers. They receive materials from vendors and deliver them to the areas that need them. Unfortunately, our warehouse is part and parcel with the factory floor, not separated, so we have a problem there that simply cannot be undone before this round of 5S work. I'd love it to happen, but...no.

This is also due to our recent move to AX Dynamics as a purchasing and inventory system.

This material handling department (MH) has had an attitude during the AX change that it is only going to make their job harder, while making the shop's jobs easier. They want more people to be able to do the work. (I used to work in that department, and believe me, they don't need more people. They just need to buck up and stay busy.)
Since they are the key movers of materials, I believe they need to be first in this implementation. They are in charge of storage of materials outside, most areas inside, and the movements, with a few other departments making moves into workcenters as well.
I feel like the management of this department should be replaced, but it's really not going to happen.

Has anyone had a department like this, that really doesn't want to be involved, has attitude like they don't care, it's not their job, etc, and successfully been able to turn them around? I feel like it needs to be owned by them, proudly, for it to work.

Any thoughts on how to, um, force this down their throats?
10/23/2019 01:45 PM
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Jean Cunningham

It might be more interesting to ask a more root cause question...why have materials handlers as a separate function versus more of a value stream thinking. When you align people to the value creating work, there is a better connect to the purpose of the work.

In our company, we eliminated materials handler as a function, and put the work of placing, selecting and preparing materials as part of the cell, or value stream. That work had standard work just like the 'direct labor' (we stopped calling them that btw) and work was fully integrated.

Also, we put the materials as close to where they would be used as possible, not in some isolated warehouse. We called it grocery stores and they were right in the related cell where product was produced. Additionally, this allowed the cells to create signals to replenish their materials versus some MRP driven computer system.

So go back to root cause, and basic lean concepts, and maybe that will also help with the issue of material handlers! Good luck!
10/29/2019 10:12 AM
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Owen Berkeley-Hill

In my opinion and experience, 5S is introduced in the wrong way and then people see it as an extra burden for no personal benefit (WIIIFM?).

Do you have people who are seen as lazy, but also clever? They rarely follow procedures and are usually finding ways to shorten the time taken to do a job. Their supervision gets very annoyed because their efforts are seen as cutting corners and can be dangerous. How many of these supervisors encourage a kaizen culture? Any? How many see these attempts to cut corners as attempts to reduce Waste and then get the "improvement attempts" to follow a methodology like A3? Any?

Another problem is that people run around like headless chickens when they know that the CEO is going to drop in tomorrow on one of his very rare visits to the Gemba. Things must be neat and tidy to impress him (usually a him) though not necessarily efficient. A careless word from the CEO can undo hours or years of hard 5S work.

A third problem is the use of the word audit to evaluate progress, the audit usually being done by an "authority" who has never worked in that area or with her/his hands. How would you feel if someone was coming to audit you?

The simple advice I can give to you is to make 5S the way in which they, not experts, make the workplace work for them, not the other way round, thereby reducing Muda, Mura and Muri.

Good luck!
10/29/2019 10:12 AM
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Jessica Quolke

Hi Robert -
I am the 5S champion for the company I work for, and we have been implementing 5S slowly over the last 3 years throughout the manufacturing plant. We started with 3 locations that are highly visable to anyone walking through, including employees as they are going about their daily jobs. We had small training sessions, each one focused on just one "S", then we went out and implemented that S in the work areas. The training was very down to earth and matter of fact - and the employees in those work areas bought in and owned the process. It takes time, patience and guiding the employees down a path and letting them decide how they are going to walk that path, rather than forcing something on them, that they feel is not theirs. All of the groups that are practicing 5S, have taken ownership of their areas, and have adopted a "be a good neighbor" attitude; this meaning they respect each others work spaces and clean up at the end of the day as well as making sure we aren't walking into another area and just dropping parts where ever we want. We had issues at the start with material handling not respecting those work areas that are practicing 5S but through conversation and cooperation, material handling got on board - not because we forced them to, but because they were able to see how it was helping others, and how it ended up helping helping them do their jobs. Eventually, material handling and other areas in the shop have organically "sprouted" practicing 5S in their areas. 5S on our manufacturing floor has become a grass roots campaign led by employees, guided by myself, and we have been very successful at sustaining.
I hope that helps a little with the problem you are having. As with any continuous improvement tool, and takes a lot of patience and "why" explaining before it catches on - but once it does - people do extraordinary things :)
10/29/2019 10:12 AM
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Pete Connor

Hi Robert,

Well you have got your work cut out, especially if you are 're-launching' 5S, as you have already have history of, by the sounds of it, a project that wasn't successful before, and the teams will have that 'here we go again' thought process about it. 5S is ongoing, it isn't easy, but you have keep going!

Regarding your materials handling challenge, have you had a kaizen event around this department?
Maybe not talk about 5S, but get the key stakeholders involved together, and process map the current state, this would probably involve a Gemba walk, followed by a few hours away from the problem getting everyone's heads together to produce a future state process, that has the main player on board?

We have used this as a starting point to solve troublesome areas on several occaisions, with great success.

Once you start working in a structured, analytical way, you will see the difference in how the team starts to perform. Yes, there may be some push back from one or two team members, but you have to remain strong and stick to your guns; during change, there tends to be casualties... I have found it ends up being those people who don't like change are the ones who fall by the wayside...
10/29/2019 10:13 AM
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Jessica Quolke

I would start by making sure that you have a good 5S company strategy first - what do you want to accomplish and why - make sure Leadership is backing the movement.
Second, I would suggest thinking about it in a different way- forcing any new tool "down their throats" won't be successful - it will always be looked at as something management wants us to do.
In our company, we started implementing 5S about 4 years ago, and we are no where near complete. We started with individual work cells instead of rolling it out to the entire company. The trainings were focused on one "S" at a time - when we complete the sort phase we would move on to learn about and implement the straighten phase and so on. It gave myself the ability to really have the workers in those work cells take ownership and pride in what they were doing. We adopted a "be a good neighbor" campaign that drove respect for other people's work areas.
As other departments so how 5S helped to improve the daily work of their neighboring work cells, they wanted to know when it was their turn to "5S". While 5S is a company initiative, it grew out of a grass roots campaign on the factory floor. Our material handlers are involved in each work cells 5S kick off, as they are the ones moving materials through different areas, getting their opinion on how to arrange an area is very important - knowing that they have a voice also brought a lot of ownership from a support position stand point.
Good luck in your efforts!!
10/30/2019 01:26 PM
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I think there are 2 issues to be adressed:
1- workplace layout: excess of motions and all the mess around
2- everyone mindset regarding 5S

for point1:
I recommend to draw the spaghetti chart for 1 team to make all movements visible in a board.
Identification: Start by asking people how they can improve their day making things more tidy and clean: no materials or papers clutter, no dust, no oil spills, no wiring.
keep in mind, this task is an everyday routine.

for point2:
everyone is involved: 5S man or woman are here to help us not to do the work in our places.
The secret word is Buy-In or WIIIFM what is in it for me
I recommend that you have some cheat sheet that you have all the time with you:
you will draw a table (area/worker/benefits/to do list)
area: incoming-delivery

worker: unloading guy

Safe and easy movement/clear aisles/clean floor makes pallet jack move easily on floor/delivery board and papers organized make less time to search/tidy computer desk makes recording delivery faster and accurate.

To do list:
Clean the floor after work
organize pallets respecting the zoning
keep computer folders organized

and so on for the other operations.

good luck.
11/07/2019 03:47 PM
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jason libby

I think you hit the nail on the head. Perfect.