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Metal Fabrication And The 5S Method

Sunday, October 17, 2010
The 5S Method

In a metal manufacturing setting, the Kaizen 5S framework, which is a series of five Japanese words beginning with the letter “S” can be implemented for the shop floor. This framework allows for a sanitary, working setting.

The first “S” is Seiri and refers to tidiness or in English can be referred to as “sort.” The shop floor in a metal shop should always be tidy. Any articles not needed for manufacturing need to be discarded. A way of identifying unneeded articles is by “red tagging” them, which is precisely what it means: placing a red tag on it. The articles are then moved to a location where they can be ordered and either thrown away, used elsewhere, or recycled.

The second “S” is Seiton and means organization or things being “set in order.” The shop setting should have everything organized. Items have to be stockpiled effectively and labeled so that employees can locate them quickly and easily. If things are out of place, this will advance production time while workers seek out components. It is important that all of the “S” methods go in order and that this step is done subsequent to sorting because time does not need to be wasted sorting items that need to be red tagged and thrown away.

The third “S” is Seiso which is defined as cleanliness or “shine.” Now that everything is stowed, a thorough cleansing of the shop needs to be conducted and on a continual basis in the future. Machines and areas should always be clean so they are functioning at their best so cleaning of sites should be conducted every day. Cleaning also helps staff notice if something is not working correctly. Grime can lessen the effectiveness of a machine in a metal manufacturing environment.

The fourth “S” is Seiketsu, which means standardization. Standardization makes sure that everyone is thinking the same way in what they should be working on and a standard form of procedures is always followed so that the 5S methodology is maintained. Charts and signs can be used as reminders to employees so that they keep using the system. Roaming from the procedures or standards can waste priceless time. Prevention is important in this step so that an accumulation of unnecessary materials is prevented, a dirty work setting is avoided, and the first 3 S’s are maintained.

The last “S” is Shitsuke and means continuing with the principles of Kaizen through continuous improvement and sustaining the discipline. The goal is to make all of the S’s a practice and to not fall back on old practices and forget about the 5S methodology. Constant reminders and management follow-up are necessary to make sure that the 5S system is a success.

Oftentimes a sixth “S” is appended for safety. This “S” would be good to add in a metal manufacturing shop due to the manufacturing equipment that is on the shop floor such as laser cutters. Employees must be schooled in safety measures and safety adherence.

5S Methodology in Practice

At Maloya, we used the 5S system in a variety of ways to advance our working environment. We used metrics to measure efficiency and achievement in our production work center as well as evaluated production quality levels. We also observed benchmarks of necessary skill sets for workers working in certain areas so that they could determine which of their workers needed more training. The methodology let us to grow our company significantly by putting into practice the 5S system in a metal manufacturing setting.

Marc Anderes is a co-founder of Maloya Laser which specializes in Laser Cutting and Metal Manufacturing with advanced laser technologies, targeting machinery, aerospace, medical, scientific and transportation needs.

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