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5S Workplace Organization Method

Post by Pat O'Neill, May 29, 2020, Tech Tips, Tips


5S was developed in Japan and was identified as one of the techniques that enabled Just in Time manufacturing.

Basically, 5S describes how to organize and lay out a space for maximum efficiency and effectiveness by identifying, sorting and storing the items used, and maintaining the area and items to help sustain the newly organized areas.

The basis for 5S lies in “Kaizen”, or the process of continuous improvement. Every process you perform can be improved upon, and the resulting gains will translate into the end product.
There are five 5S phases. They can be translated from the Japanese as “Sort”, “Set in order”, “Shine”, “Standardize”, and “Sustain”.

Central to its success is the focus placed on waste, in all its forms. By minimizing wasted movements, wasted space, wasted time, waste in general, quality and efficiency will improve.

Working on a car is similar to 5S. You have to use all five of the basic principles: sort, set, shine, sustain and standardize. A neat, well-organized environment is more conducive to performing quality work than an unorganized one. It also is better for morale, and will net you higher CSI scores, and ultimately higher profitability.

Don’t be afraid of 5S, embrace it. Your business and your customers will be much better off for doing so.

What does 5S stand for?

  1. SORT: Separate out what is needed for the operations and remove the unneeded components.
  2. SET: Set in order or organize the work area. Make it easy to find what is needed. A place for everything, and everything in its place.
  3. SHINE: Clean the work area. Make it shine.
  4. STANDARIZE: Establish schedules and methods of performing the normal tasks of the operation in general, cleaning and sorting.
  5. SUSTAIN: Implement programs to sustain the gains through involvement of all employees from every level.

Let’s break down each of these 5S basics and get an idea of what they mean in a collision shop setting.

Do you have a few extra sheet metal pieces lying around that you know as soon as you toss them you will need them? The same ones you have thought that same thing about for the past five years? Most shops do.

Go through your entire shop and get rid of all the stuff that you don’t need and don’t use.

Look at what you need to perform your service. You are going to gain lots of extra room by doing this without adding on to your building. Take this step seriously because it will affect all the others that follow. Keep only what you truly need and use.

In this step, you will begin to organize the shop for maximum workflow. You need to organize the entire shop area and put it in its proper place.

Work stalls, departmental areas, tool storage areas, even where the brooms are kept, should all be designated and marked. This step will take a little time, and a lot of involvement by your people. When equipment is used, it needs to be returned to the proper place, and be in the same condition it was found in before being used.

Simply lining the floor to clearly delineate workspace will create less chaos and improve workflow. You can take this step to the extreme if you want. Remember, these methods are not only for the shop, but for the office as well.

The floors, walls, equipment, spray booth, virtually everything must be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. You have to initiate a culture of clean that everyone in the shop is involved in and buys into.

It is a body shop, and body shops generate dirt. It is possible, however, to minimize the mess by being aware of your surroundings and by making an effort to keep things clean.

Initially, you may have to keep on top of the worst offenders, but with some words of encouragement you can generally make sure everyone knows you want and expect them to respect the shop and keep it clean. If needed, set up a reward system to get everybody to buy in.

From the front office to the wash bay, every process you do in every department and facet of your shop should be outlined and written on paper.

Create a standard inventory list for your allied materials: sandpaper, glues, primers, masking papers, etc. so that everyone is using the same products to repair your customer’s cars.

Your quality will be much easier to maintain if everyone is using the same repair process and same set of materials. Dropped-off vehicles should have a standard process that is followed by the office staff on every occasion.

Every person in the repair process should have a job. Again, you can take this step as far as your imagination can take you by outlining even the smallest and seemingly most insignificant process. I would suggest at the very least you:

  • Outline the standard paper workflow in your office from estimate to repair completion.
  • Outline the workflow in the shop from the way work is handed out to the final clean up, including quality control inspections at regular intervals.

Once all of your improvements have been put into place, they have to be maintained and stay in place.

The key to success here is to take small steps in several of the other processes, and add to them once they have become part of the daily routine for your people.

Blog curtesy of USI North America


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