Five Steps to Six Sigma Success
A great way for distributors to improve processes and optimize space is to deploy Six Sigma methodologies. An effective starting point for introducing these methodologies into a company’s operation is through five-step (5S) projects.
5S, a workplace organization system developed in Japan in the 1950s, was first implemented by the Toyota Motor Corporation. The system is based on the idea that a clean, organized, and safe workplace will increase efficiency, safety, and productivity. It is a simple but effective system that can be applied to any business or industry.
The 5S system consists of five steps: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. When used in a distribution center, 5S can help to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and create a safer working environment.
The best way to start is to schedule time to walk around your distribution center or warehouse to look for opportunities for a 5S project. Some examples of helpful 5S projects include IT equipment rooms, tool rooms, trash and recycle bin locations, and janitorial supply cabinets.
Look for areas that can use some cleaning and organizing and pick one. Preferably, for your first project, select a visible location that many use so that others can see the results. Before you get started, take some “before” pictures to show the current state of the area.
Here are the steps to applying a 5S system.
1. Sort: The first step of 5S is sorting all the work items and removing any unnecessary items. This helps to reduce clutter and makes items easier to find.
2. Set in Order: Next, organize the area by labeling items, creating storage areas, and setting up a system for easy access.
3. Shine: Clean and maintain the workplace. This includes dusting, wiping down surfaces, and cleaning up spills.
4. Standardize: Create a system for how the workplace should be organized and maintained. The system should emphasize storing, labeling, and accessing items.
5. Sustain: The last step is maintaining the newly created system. This includes ensuring the new procedure is followed and adjusted as needed.
Once you are done, congratulate all the team members who were involved and praise them for their work and accomplishment. This shows your employees you care and encourages participation in future 5S projects.
Implementing the 5S system in a distribution center can bring many benefits, including:
- Increased efficiency: Organizing the workplace makes finding and accessing items more efficient. This can lead to increased productivity. It is aggravating to waste time looking for the tools needed to perform your job.
- Reduced costs: Reducing clutter and organizing the workplace makes it easier to find items and access them quickly. This can reduce costs as things are not wasted or misplaced.
- Improved safety: Organizing the workplace makes it easier to identify potential hazards and take steps to reduce them. This can lead to safer conditions in the workplace.
- Improved morale: A clean and organized workplace can improve employee morale.
You can find free Six Sigma templates online. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when these tools are already available. While the past three years have brought much uncertainty into supply chain operations, 5S practices can help distributors put their best foot forward.