The State of 5S in 2021 [Webinar]

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What is the state of 5S in 2021? David Visco discusses or in-depth survey…

In late 2020, The 5S Store commissioned important research. Our goal with the study was to establish benchmarks for what successful implementation of 5S and Lean Manufacturing look like across companies of all sizes and industries. With responses from nearly 150 companies that leverage 5S, we’ve learned quite a bit about how companies are running their 5S efforts.  

Join David Visco, author of 5S Made Easy and founder of The 5S Store as he discusses the survey findings and what 5S practitioners can learn from the data to improve their own 5S implementations.

In this webinar, you will learn:

  • How 5S implementations are performing vs. previous years
  • What industries are having more success than others and why
  • What companies are doing well and where they’re missing the mark
  • What are the most popular tools and approaches being used
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Transcripts from the State of 5S Webinar

To download a PDF of the transcripts click here.

Maribeth Ross:

Hello. Thank you for joining us for today’s webinar, The State of 5S in 2021, What’s Happening Now. Before we get started today, we have a few housekeeping items. The hashtag for our webinar is #stateof5S. Feel free to post insights using this hashtag on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and be sure to tag us. You may also ask questions via the chat or the Q and A capability anytime during the presentation.

Maribeth Ross:

At the end of today’s program, we’ll attempt to answer all of the questions. But if your question isn’t answered today, someone will follow up with a response after the webinar. Today’s session is being recorded and it will be sent to you following the presentation for your own purposes or to share with others. Now I’d like to introduce our speaker. David Visco is a 5S expert. Beginning in 1985, David launched his career as a warehouse control manager, running a distribution center that managed inventory of over $500 million in value.

Maribeth Ross:

As he furthered his career, he gained extensive experience across warehouse, production planning, logistics, and materials management. Using 5S in the workplace, he saw a unique opportunity and a need for a 5S resource. In 2006, he founded the 5S Store, the first online store dedicated entirely to 5S. The 5S store provides a massive range of 5S products, free best practices content, and coaching services to thousands of clients.

Maribeth Ross:

In 2015, his first book 5S Made Easy was published. Today, in addition to his role at the 5S Store, he frequently speaks publicly on the topic of 5S best practices. I’m Maribeth and I’ll be your moderator today, presenting the results of the 5S survey and posing your questions to David for discussion over the next 60 minutes. We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started.

Maribeth Ross:

I’d like to begin by explaining our survey methodology. Last fall, we put a comprehensive survey out to companies of all sizes the globe over. Our team worked with industry experts to create this comprehensive survey, and our intent was to produce a detailed picture of the current state of lean with a specific focus on 5S. The responses to the survey were anonymous, but I can tell you that the respondent’s titles included titles such as production lean manager, TMP and lean manager, quality manager, director of operational excellence, and CI program managers. So very applicable responses there.

Maribeth Ross:

When we take a peek at the demographics, we had 142 companies respond. Most of them, 73%, were from the private sector, and 23.7% from the public sector. What we saw was a wide range of company sizes. So 60% of respondents came from companies that employ between 105,000 people. About 10% of the companies that were represented in the survey are greater than 10,000 employees. Participating companies came from 21 different industries, which you could see on the screen there, encompassing many types of manufacturing and processing businesses. You can see the spread there in that chart.

Maribeth Ross:

Let’s talk about 5S in 2020. One of the questions that we asked was how would you describe your organization’s 5S initiative in 2020? Our major takeaway from that was that about 50% of the respondents say that their 5S programs were formal, actively implemented and communicated. What that represents to us is a huge opportunity for companies to further incorporate 5S as a key tool to expand and improve their lean initiatives.

Maribeth Ross:

56% of respondents said that they indicate 5S was less of a priority right now. 54% of respondents indicate that their 5S program regressed in 2020. So that led us to ask, well, how did the pandemic affect your 5S implementation? And asked specifically about this. 56% of respondents indicated that 5S was less of a priority during the pandemic. Further, 54% of respondents indicated that in the first question, that their program had regressed as a result of that.

Maribeth Ross:

And so, the story that tells is an opportunity for improved 5S implementation in 2021. So let’s start there, David. Talk to me about your thoughts, about how 5S work and our experience with COVID go hand in hand.

David Visco:

Yeah. Thanks, Maribeth. Hi everybody. Yeah. I mean, when you think about it, 5S isn’t about cleaning and organizing. That might be the result, but also it’s all about changing behaviors for the better. I think when COVID all of a sudden showed up on our doorstep, there were a lot of changes that needed to happen. Behaviors needed to change left and right. All of a sudden, we found we had to be wearing masks. We had to be looking for signs all over the place on where we could stand. It was really completely different.

David Visco:

If you look at 5S, what happened was, all of a sudden, people were starting to use 5S and they didn’t even know it, like setting up standards, standard ways to enter a building, standard places where you could sit at a restaurant or whatnot. So it really had a huge implication all over the place. And then even in shine, all new behaviors there too.

David Visco:

Like a doctor’s office I was in, there were seats that are marked off that you can’t sit in. They give you a placard, so you’ve got to go sit down, hold the placard in. And then, when you get up, you put a sign down on the chair as a signal that that chair is now contaminated. So what they have to do, they need standards in place for how, okay, somebody has got to go out and clean the chair. So it really did cross over from manufacturing and everywhere else. I was seeing 5S everywhere and most people weren’t even aware of it.

Maribeth Ross:

So true. I would love to put out a poll to our audience, based on what we were just talking about. What’s your company’s approach to 5S in 2021. There’ll be three multiple-choice answers that pop up for you to respond. The first is we are prioritizing 5S more in 2021 than 2020. The second is 5S is a priority this year, same as last year. And the third choice is we are prioritizing 5S less in 2021 than we did in 2020. If you’d take a moment to answer this poll, we’ll be able to pop the responses right back up on the screen and take a look at what the experience is from the audience.

Maribeth Ross:

Great. If you could finalize your responses now, we’ll get the results up on the screen. Okay. What we see here is mixed results. It looks like a little more than half of the folks who chose to respond to this are prioritizing 5S more in 2021 than 2020. A little less than half say it’s about the same priority level as last year. And no respondents said that they were prioritizing 5S less. So that sounds like a really good thing.

Maribeth Ross:

Let’s move on. Use of 5S. We asked the audience if they employ 5S methodology to complement their lean implementation, and overwhelmingly, they said yes. In fact, when we asked them about all the different tools that they use in their lean implementation, 5S was the most popular lean tool. Interestingly, over half of the surveyed companies report shifting their primary focus away from 5S in 2020. And we think, what David said, it’s surprising because 5S is uniquely suited to help meet the ongoing crisis and all of the things that we need to do to deal with the pandemic.

Maribeth Ross:

The shift seems to indicate that 5S practices are not widely understood or being fully implemented. And we’re going to double click into a lot of these different things in detail. But I’d like to start with high level. David, what do you make of that?

David Visco:

That’s a great question. It was interesting to see this number, particularly the 50% that have shifted away from 5S last year. The more I thought about it, is there shouldn’t be anything to shift away from. 5S is supposed to be just the way you do things. Just like when you brush teeth at the end of the day before you go to bed or whatnot, it’s not even a habit. It’s just automatic. And that’s what 5S is supposed to be.

David Visco:

We keep making it this thing that has action items, and due dates, and almost handle it like a project. If 5S was truly implemented at these places as it’s supposed to be, there wouldn’t be any change at all because there’d be nothing to change. It was just the way they were always doing things. I thought that was very interesting, the number dropped as much as it did.

Maribeth Ross:

Me too. This is a bit of an i-chart on your screen here, and I apologize for that. But it’s a lot of data in one view, and I’ll walk you through the story here. We asked our survey participants to rate how effective they were on essentially the 5S’s. We asked them to answer based on a five-point Likert scale. And so, when we looked at this, it’s pretty clear where implementations go awry with 5S.

Maribeth Ross:

Sustain appears to be the step that people self report the most challenges with. Conversely, respondents overall felt pretty good about their ability to put standards in place, so standardize. But it seems like there’s room for improvement on just about everything. So we’re going to spend the next several slides moving into more detail on individual activities related to 5S, and we’ll start with red tagging.

Maribeth Ross:

An overlooked tool in terms of our responses from the survey is red tag events. Red tag events, as you know, are a fundamental part of the sorting process, and they serve to efficiently eliminate waste. About a quarter of respondents are not holding red tag events. And so, they’re missing an opportunity to quickly and efficiently create a less cluttered environment, and more productive workspace.

Maribeth Ross:

43% have done the events and they’ve moved items into a red tag zone, but only 33% are doing this at what we deem best practice level, where they’re conducting the events and then ultimately disposing of, or reusing the items that are red tagged. David, I’d like to push this one over to you. What are your thoughts on use of red tagging?

David Visco:

Yeah, that was interesting that almost a quarter of the respondents don’t even do red tagging. I find that rather interesting because, in the very beginning part of launching 5S as it is these days, most people start with sort. They would have an event and clear out their area and whatnot. So it’s been the foundation or the starting piece of 5S. There’s no reason not to have an event. Have fun with it. Announce it, bring in pizza, food. Just go to town and clean up that area that you’re addressing left to right, top to bottom, and get all the stuff out that you don’t need to do your job.

David Visco:

It’s funny. I was at a client recently, and a rather large manufacturing facility. Truth be told, they were just starting to do 5S audits. And I was like, “Well, have you guys even put in place the red tagging yet?” And they hadn’t. I knew they hadn’t because the area was really in quite disarray. So I’m like, “Well, don’t you think you need to maybe sweat out the red tags first?” And don’t forget, you also need to implement some standards so that you can audit against something.

David Visco:

So it’s funny that even people don’t get started on the red tag part of things, because it should be the beginning of the whole process, and just have fun with it. Oh, I wanted to add some tips with starting a red tag process, is if you have a team, hopefully you have 5S team, it’d be good to give the management of the red tag system to one person. It doesn’t all have to fall on the 5S lead. And then always make sure you have red tags. So maybe set up a little Kanban for that, and don’t ever run out. Yeah, that’s it for red tags.

Maribeth Ross:

Thanks, David.

David Visco:

Yep.

Maribeth Ross:

Let’s take a peak at set in order. For the set in order phase, we asked about the activities that the respondents partake in. The majority of the companies surveyed, nearly 62%, are most frequently choosing to label items and label the workspace. Only 45% have eliminated unnecessary items. That shows the under-utilization of the red tag tool as we talked about. But other best practices, rather, that helped organize the workplace seemed to be used by 40% or less of the respondents.

Maribeth Ross:

For example, 40% of the respondents use before and after photos for a tangible measure of improvement over time. 38% evaluate true use of items, and only 21% list their essential items and their location, so that time isn’t lost or wasted in tracking those items down. David, let’s talk a little bit about the set in order phase and why it’s so important.

David Visco:

Sure. Thanks. There’s a lot of different reasons, but two in particular come to mind. One is all the set in orders that I’ve done through the years with folks and when it was a regular employee and whatnot, when you have that set in order phase, everybody should be getting together and helping and coming up with ideas on how to improve the flow, how to improve everything that’s going on in that area. If it’s done that way, it just builds morale. People start taking ownership of their area, and certainly of 5S because they’re done on the hands and knees laying tape where they were part of cleaning it up and figuring out what would work better than the way it had been.

David Visco:

So it just helps with the whole team building part of it. Also, once you’re done with the 5S, set in order, the place is just going to look amazing. Who doesn’t want to work in a better looking area in a place that’s just so visual and just pops. The benefit of that, of course, is if you have visual controls laid out here and there, like floor tape or whatnot, or Kanbans on the table, or whatever. People are going to know exactly what’s expected of them to do next.

David Visco:

It helps with the flow of everything, which just makes it a much better atmosphere, better place to work. And the workers then, they know that they’re appreciated and they feel like they’re actually adding value.

Maribeth Ross:

Thanks, David.

David Visco:

Sure.

Maribeth Ross:

Let’s move on to color coding. We asked, to what have you employed color coding standards, and select all that apply. About 41% of respondents indicated that they color code only some items. Over 13% don’t use color coding at all. David, I know you’re of the position that color coding is vital for standardizing because it creates a tangible system for measuring the behaviors that are required for continuous improvement.

Maribeth Ross:

But let’s look at the rest of the numbers here. We color code some items such as cleaning and material handling tools. That was 42%. We have extended our color coding to accessories such as bins, clipboards, tapes, document holders. Tools, that was 47%. To help keep things organized, we matched the color of tools and storage areas. That was 38%. And we reinforce 5S color coding with training, labels, signs, and posters, was about 40%. And as I mentioned, 13% said, “We’re not using color coding at all.” David, can you expand for us on your thoughts of the importance of color coding?

David Visco:

Yeah. I think color coding is one of the easiest things that you can do to change the behaviors, which is really what the whole point of this is, in the long run. A common example is, people’s cleaning tools are missing. You’re sitting there trying to do your job, and you can’t find… At the end of the day, you’re cleaning up or whenever, you can’t find your broom, you can’t find the dust pan. You have no idea where it is. So what do you do? You start chasing around looking for [inaudible 00:20:03] people.

David Visco:

Then you find it in somebody’s area. You might get a little bent that that person had taken your stuff, etc. That type of thing really starts to boil over after a while. I was literally at a facility last week where I saw that happening. It was crazy. The idea of color coding in that instance is you take every zone, maybe there’s half a dozen zones in a building, or however it’s broken up. You break the place up, give it a zone, give every zone a certain color. And that color is going to coordinate with maybe the barrels, push broom, the dust pan, the hand broom, whatever you might need to tie it all together.

David Visco:

You might have a green area or a blue area, and all the tools have those colors. You can even get tool shadow boards that are made specifically for the tools. You could put them on a mobile rack or against the wall. And you made sure that the board is the color that matches the tools and the area. It tightens everything up and makes everything look a heck of a lot better. And people will know when their tools are…

David Visco:

Like if I went and grabbed somebody else’s tool that I shouldn’t have, I’m going to know I did something wrong and that I really shouldn’t. So that’ll start to decrease that happening. And it’ll open people’s eyes up to, “Geez, what is going on? Why are we missing this?” At the end of the day, that’s the goal, is to figure out, what’s triggering my tool? And it could be any tool. Doesn’t have to be a push broom. But what’s triggering it to disappear?

David Visco:

Somebody obviously is trying to do their job and they can’t. So they go off and look for the missing tool and whatnot. You could tighten things up a lot with color coding. I’ve also seen people use like Plasti Dip, which is some way you can dip the handles of the tools in, and it gives it a color, whatever you chose to make it, and you can match that to the shadow boards.

David Visco:

You can have a tool shadows on a peg board and make it the same color as the zone and the same color as the handle on the tools. So you can really go to town with color coding, to help pull in everything together.

Maribeth Ross:

Some great advice there, David. Let’s take a peak at shine. We asked, which of the following are you doing to ensure your shine efforts are on point? This was a question where they could select all that apply. Essentially, the shine phase looked like it could be better implemented across the board, particularly considering the current pandemic. But when workers know that their safety is prioritized, they can focus more on the quality and the efficiency of their work.

Maribeth Ross:

Digging into the data, surprisingly only 54% of respondents indicated that requiring frequent cleaning and inspections was part of what they do. Not quite 47% assign cleaning tasks, and 40% keep photographs of equipment in areas for reference of what good looks like. There were other essential shine tools that seem to be used by less than 40% of the respondents, including only 37% have a method for communicating the findings during cleaning, to identify problem areas.

Maribeth Ross:

36% keep a list of equipment that needs to be shined, so that nothing is overlooked. Only 33% use a shine schedule so that no area or piece of equipment gets overlooked. 22% hold people accountable to the schedule that they have in place in order to build a sense of ownership. While health and safety standards have definitely shifted dramatically across the globe, the 5S system provides companies with proven methods to rise to that challenge, as we talked about earlier.

Maribeth Ross:

So the shine phase of 5S implementation could be considered more important now than ever before. David, I know you have a position on how to do shine right. What are your key takeaways for the audience here?

David Visco:

Yeah. When I think of shine, I don’t think of just cleaning, but most people do. They just think that, well, that just means I’m going to clean my equipment. Well, really the idea behind the shine step is to make sure that it’s so clean that when there’s any kind of non-conformity, or breakage, or a leak, or what have you, it’s obvious. So anybody could just go by and see if something’s not quite right.

David Visco:

Let’s take, for example, a piece of equipment. I’ve seen this, certainly. It could be just filthy. That thing’s been there for 20 years and it’s just dirty, rotten. And for all you know, it could be leaking like a sieve. But you can’t even see where the leak is coming from because it’s so dirty as it is. You take that piece of equipment and clean it up and whatnot, then that’ll make any of those leaks very obvious. And then you could get back to fixing the problem, which is the whole goal in the first place, is to make sure that the equipment is running when it needs to, people can do their job, get their widgets out the door, etc., etc.

David Visco:

To see such a small number of folks actually have a schedule that they hold people accountable to is surprising to me. I think there’s a ton of opportunity there, because, again, if you’re doing shine the right way, you’re going to improve things tenfold. It’s just so much benefit to it. So why not get everybody involved by giving them a certain section? One example would be if it happens to be a warehouse, give everybody a certain amount of aisles that they’re responsible for.

David Visco:

If it’s a manufacturing process, certain people should be responsible for certain pieces of equipment. It should also make its way down to any of the other set in order phases. Let’s say, if you’re laying out for a table, marking where barrels supposed to go, in the shine phase, that should be marked out properly. There could be times where the barrels are just thrown all over the place and not put back anywhere in particular. That’s where shine and set in order tie together. So there’s a ton of uses for it. But I’d suggest using it just to make non-compliance more visual.

Maribeth Ross:

Thanks, David. Let’s move on to sustaining. The question that we posed to the audience was, in order to sustain your 5S efforts, do you… And we provided them with a multiple-choice list, of which they could choose any, as many as they needed to. Overall, when it comes to sustaining 5S, we saw a really interesting pattern in the data, with under-utilization of some of the more effective methods that we see for sustaining 5S.

Maribeth Ross:

The majority of the survey respondents, 87% indicated that they are using 5S. Yet only 50% said that it was formal and systematized, as we talked about at the beginning. Just only over 60% of respondents indicated that they offer 5S training for their employees. This is a key component to creating a sustainable 5S program. So there’s definitely room for growth in this area, and there were other 5S best practices for sustainability that were also under-utilized.

Maribeth Ross:

We saw that only about 43% of respondents are conducting audits. Just over 42% of respondents have a designated leader for 5S. About 47% of respondents conduct regular department meetings, 5S meetings, meaning that more than half don’t. And roughly 46% of respondents say that they enforce accountability across the team. David, I know that sustain is a really passionate topic for you. So let’s talk about what’s going wrong here.

David Visco:

Yeah. It’s interesting that the number of audits that are being conducted are so low. That’s one of the easiest methods to put in place, that we tend to make a lot more difficult. But it really doesn’t need to be. What you measure is what you’re going to improve. So if you’re truly implementing 5S and other lean tools to try and improve matters, why not use an audit so that you can check how things are going? Stay on top of everything, get everybody involved.

David Visco:

What I find happens too often, unfortunately, with audits is that they’re done in a vacuum. Somebody will come down that happens to be responsible for doing the audit, and they’ll whip right through the area. They won’t talk to anybody. They won’t open any drawers. They won’t do anything other than mark on their sheet and then walk away. I’ve seen that so many times. Audits should be a communication tool, a methodology so that you can actually get together and determine, what’s going well, what needs improvement, what help do you need, etc. It’s too bad that we’ve seen audits drop that low.

David Visco:

The other piece I would pull from this is, less than half of the companies actually have the 5S lead. That’s really too bad because a lot of folks that I talk to when they call me in to help with 5S or just assess how their program’s going, every single one of them doesn’t have the time to handle 5S. And so, what happens is it gets spread out, not managed very well. I think the best way to do that would be to, well, certainly have a team and have a 5S lead.

David Visco:

That person would then spread out the wealth across that team to get all the 5S initiatives done. So you should have somebody who’s the go-to for all questions like the Oracle, for 5S. Just have that person responsible and always available at least to talk. If he has a strong team, that person won’t get overly busy either. They should be able to spread the wealth there. So that’s really important for sustaining.

David Visco:

People are way too busy to even do a quick audit. How are we ever going to sustain all the other stuff with 5S, and even the other lean tools?

Maribeth Ross:

That’s some great advice, David. Before we move into floor marking, I’d just like to remind our audience that they can submit their questions using the Q and A function at the bottom of their screen. What that does is it queues the questions up so that at the end of this webinar, I’ll be able to run through those questions with David and you can get your questions answered live. We like to see those come in early instead of all rush in at the end. So if you have one, please put it in there. Thanks.

Maribeth Ross:

Moving on to floor marking, the question that we posed to our panel was, in which ways do you use aisle and floor marking? Again, this was a select all that apply kind of question. Essentially, what we saw was that people use floor marking for a variety of reasons. Most popular among our survey respondents was floor marking to indicate storage areas. But safety also seemed to be a common theme, with over 51% floor marking to prevent slipping, 47% to remind about areas to avoid or restricted use areas. David, do these numbers surprise you? I’d love to just talk about floor marking for a bit.

David Visco:

Yeah, they’re actually lower than I would suspect. I base that on floor marking is our number one category here at the 5S Store. For 15 straight years, floor marking has led the way every single month, except one, when custom boards were going through the roof. But every single month, except for that one month, for 15 years, people avoided more floor marking than any other solution on our website.

David Visco:

So it surprises me that somewhere around half are using floor marking. I mean, it’s a key tool to use and you set in order phase. And it’s easy to use too. So that really does surprise me a bit. I’m glad to see that it’s being used often for safety reasons. But again, not nearly enough. These numbers should certainly be a heck of a lot higher. So I’m not really sure why that is, what people are doing instead of using floor marking. I don’t really know, but it certainly can be extremely useful for setting an order and keeping people safe and making sure that they’re walking where they’re allowed to and not walking where they can’t.

David Visco:

It’s funny, I think most of us probably saw all sorts of floor marking when COVID hit. I know, with the Walgreens near us, all of a sudden they had blue tape down on the ground, and I wound up bringing them some really nice “Stay six feet back” signs. And all of a sudden, I saw that everywhere. Although it was awful because there was a pandemic. But I was still seeing signs of 5S and floor tape all over the place. So I took pictures. It was fun to see, get the best out of that, that I could. But yeah.

Maribeth Ross:

Let’s stay on the topic of visual alerts for a bit and dive a little deeper into visual cues. We asked the audience, which of the following visual alerts they use to alert employees of possible dangerous areas. Again, select all that apply. Over 76% of respondents indicated that they use visual alerts to identify movement paths. And this is a really promising start. Yet only 59% mark hazardous areas. Less than half of the respondents mark intersections or hazardous equipment and tripping hazards.

Maribeth Ross:

When we look more specifically at floor marking, we see a similar trend with the visual cues not being used to their fullest extent. David, let’s stay on this topic of visual. Do these numbers concern you when you think about visual alerts combined with the floor marking stuff?

David Visco:

Yeah. They’re certainly lower than they should be. I mean, a good note, it’s good to see that movement paths have been identified with floor tape. That’s a good thing. But keep in mind that the tape can also be used as visual signals on where to put things. So I’m really surprised it’s as low as it is, and especially in intersections marked. There are more accidents in warehouses where you’ve got a nice big intersection going with multiple forklifts and whatnot.

David Visco:

I was at a client recently where I saw two forklifts almost run into other. It’s interesting. In these days, we had actually… There’s a new solution that’s come out over the last year or two, that’s really growing in usage, and there are these LED projector signs, which are really pretty sweet. The way those work is they shine down a image from up above.

David Visco:

The most popular one is the stop sign. And the great thing is you can put them anywhere. There’s all sorts of different signs available for that. But that’s one solution that people have found lately that have worked really well.

Maribeth Ross:

For our audience, if anyone is interested in learning more about these projector signs, Rena just popped a link to an example of projector signs in our chat, and you can just click that link and check those out when you have a moment. On a fun note, we asked participants what term they use, because, as David says all the time, we hear 5S and we hear 6S. Here’s a breakdown. It looks like overwhelmingly people are still calling it 5S.

Maribeth Ross:

But we had an interesting response from one survey taker who said that they use the term 7S. For them, the seventh S is international traffic in arms regulations, so ITAR security. That’s their seventh S. I thought that was pretty cool. David, if you could move to the next quotes. I’d love to wrap up with these. Again, folks, if you have questions, please pop them in to the Q and A function, and we’ll get those answered. But here’s a couple of quotes that I just wanted to wrap our discussion today with.

Maribeth Ross:

We allowed respondents to put in anecdotal statements and anything that they wanted to add. We didn’t guide them in any way. Two key quotes that we got, you see here. One said, “Regarding 5S, sometimes it just hard to get skilled trade workers to buy into being the “janitor”.” The other comment that we saw that I found interesting was, “Our 5S work has been very, very COVID-focused in 2020, but not so much on the broader 5S concepts. Lean and lean initiatives have fallen way off, and it’s rarely mentioned by name anymore.”

Maribeth Ross:

Ironically, their quick pivot to source, produce, and supply PPE for this respondent, essentially saved their company and opened up new markets for them. So it’s interesting to see how lean and 5S can actually help in different ways than we ever thought. David, I’d love to get any comments that you have on either or both of these quotes.

David Visco:

Sure. Yeah, I think, regarding the one about being a janitor, I know I heard that a ton in the beginning when we first started the company. What’s important for everybody to realize with a 5S initiative is… Or when you’re trying to get people to buy into it anyway, is to help point out to them all of the what’s in it for them. Most people, they want to come to work, do a good job, be safe, and then go home and come back the next day.

David Visco:

Well, with 5S, sure there might be some cleaning, but it’s so much more than that. It’s making a workplace just more pleasant to be in. It helps to enforce accountability if it’s done right. And it enables the workforce. If you have a 5S group of people that are trying to work in an area together, it’s just going to make life so much better for everyone. A solid 5S process can also help if you do the sort process and you realign an area, and you shrink it down a bit because you realized you didn’t need all that much room, you could free up a lot of square space, which can eventually turn into new equipment coming in so that you could build more widgets.

David Visco:

The better your company does, as an employee, you’re going to do better as well. That’s just how it goes. Your career could proceed forward and all sorts of good things. There’s just so much good stuff with 5S, but people sometimes, they lose that or management has forgotten to take them into consideration. And when that happens, that’s the comments that you get.

Maribeth Ross:

Thanks for that, David. Thanks for the viewers. Your questions are starting to roll in. So we’d like to spend the remainder of our time together today on what we’re seeing come in from the audience. First was more of a comment than a question, but I wanted to just put it out there for you, David, in case you had any kind of response. The comment was, “In warehouses, it works better if maintenance has equipment to clean and shine aisle and common areas.” Do you have anything to add to that? Do you agree?

David Visco:

Sure. Why not? Why not have a certain tool board made for them so that it’s always readily available? The maintenance crew can easily… It’d be better than just putting stuff away in a closet somewhere. Have it out and about somewhere where it’s flexible, maybe on a mobile board or what have you. But yeah, I don’t see any reason why there would be a problem having equipment in the warehouse.

Maribeth Ross:

Great. The next question is about a team. “David. I heard you mention 5S teams several times. Can you please share who should be on the 5S team?”

David Visco:

Sure. That’s a great question. Over the years, I’ve refined this quite a bit, but you certainly want a few people that are in the area, even the production workers and what have you. It’d be great if you could have somebody from facilities on the team, because something that people miss quite often is the facilities group takes ownership of that building.

David Visco:

If you want to put up like daisy chain to hang a sign and move a piece of equipment, or do something to the floor, or add some electrical, whatever, you’re going to need them anyway. So why not include them on the team from the get-go. It’s such a good thing to do. Additionally, I like the idea of having somebody from HR on the team, because remember, 5S is all about changing behaviors and behavior change can be challenging if it isn’t handled right.

David Visco:

One example would be a supervisor gets promoted… Well, a person gets promoted to a supervisory role, and all these people now report to them, whereas before they were just one of the gang. That person may not know how to tactfully deal with challenges that come up because of 5S, somebody’s not doing their work, they’re not being part of the 5S team, etc. So having HR right there involved along the way can really help people learn how to deal with those challenging situations that inevitably will come up.

David Visco:


Yeah. Then, of course, you want a 5S lead and a couple of other people from other departments maybe, just so you could get a cross reference and just get ideas from everybody included. That would work.

Maribeth Ross:

Thanks. Here’s our next question. Our next question comes from somebody who is new to 5S, and so they have not rolled 5S out to the team yet. They’re trying to get all their ducks in a row. And so, this person is specifically asking about the 5S solution package at the 5S Store. She wants to know, “Do you recommend this as an essential purchase or do you recommend something else?” In addition, she wanted to know if you thought that the nuts and bolts game would be beneficial as well to the rollout.

David Visco:

That’s a great question. Good stuff. Yeah, the 5S solution package, we’ve had that available for years. It’s a very nice, simple system to use with workbooks, and a video, and what have you, and it has a facilitator guide there to walk you through all of the steps to implement 5S, so you can set up like a classroom type of solution.

David Visco:

Another way to go about this would be to grab my book, because it’s made for the easy. I mean, it’s just follow it step by step and you’ll be good. And just do as it says. Maybe tackle one chapter at a time, one chapter a week or whatnot. I see a lot of times people, they’ll jump into 5S, just nothing but brute force. They feel like they’ve got to get it done. Well, as I’ve said in the very beginning, there’s no getting it done. It’s just getting it started, which you’re new to it. So that’s exactly where you’re at.

David Visco:

If you just do small improvements every day or every week, just small steps, that’ll work out great for you. Another thing you could do is get some coaching. I’m available certainly to just talk, for free. Just pick up the phone, give me a call, send me an email, whatever, and I’d be happy to go over things. And then, if you want a more robust coaching program, we could do that too. It can offer that and help you out, either on-site or virtually. Yeah, I think that would work pretty well. Why don’t you give me a call and we’ll talk?

Maribeth Ross:

Thanks, David.

David Visco:

Sure.

Maribeth Ross:

Here’s another good one. I haven’t seen this one come in before on any of our previous webinars. This person says, “We fail due to the movement of employees in our union factory. People move jobs through bid bump process seniority, and they can’t get a sense of ownership. Do you have any tips for driving a sense of ownership across a unionized workforce?”

David Visco:

That’s a good question. Unions are certainly challenging. But I realized I forgot to answer the last question about the nuts and bolts game. It’s a really great little product. It’s super simple, but it drives home the idea of setting an order in 5S, and I would highly recommended. I use it every time I do a training on 5S. I also use the pegboard game too because that helps build the foundational thoughts around standardizing the workspace. So those two are really great.

David Visco:

Okay. As far as ownership, driving ownership and a union shop, I’ve only been involved in one or two union shops over the years of dealing with 5S, and it was certainly challenging. But there were two different groups. I had one where the union was just dead against it, and the other one is that they were for it. So I’m not sure which one you’re involved in. I guess I’ll assume that they’re okay with it and there’s a good relationship with the union.

David Visco:

It shouldn’t be a problem for people to move from one department to another or from one job to another, if you have the right standards in place. If your visuals are so clear, then anybody knows what they’re supposed to be doing, or where such and such is stored, or what step I’m supposed to make yet, or where this goes, where that goes, if you have nice signage throughout the place. And just the fact that you could bring anybody in there and they would have a feel for the area and what have you, losing people from one area to the next shouldn’t be a problem because it should be standardized across all departments.

David Visco:

I don’t know what kind of training they have given their folks, but that’s key too. It needs to be a really solid formulated training program that everybody in the plant has gone through. Even make it part of employee orientation. I suggest that highly, and make product reviews as to how they’re doing as part of being part of the 5S team. Yeah, so I hope that helps. I’d be happy to talk to if you want to drop me an email or a phone call or whatnot.

Maribeth Ross:

Thanks, David. We had two questions come in that are similar, so I’m going to ask them together. One of the questions was, how can I create the color coding approaches that you talked about? The second related question was about visual colored zones. Any ideas or suggestions on how to accommodate colorblind coworkers?

David Visco:

That’s a good question. I guess, for the colorblind, maybe you could use symbols instead of color. Let’s see. For example, we have checkered tape instead of solid tape. So that might work as far as tape goes. We could also probably print shadow boards with shapes like… I’m thinking of like stripes, triangles, stuff like that to try and signify the difference. You could use circles also. Total of symbols on the shadows I think would work out. It’s a good challenge, though, for sure at how to go about doing that. The other question was about what, Maribeth?

Maribeth Ross:


It was, “How can I create the color coding approaches that you talked about?”

David Visco:

Okay. Well, what I’ve done in the past with companies is like this one place I was at recently, had six different zones in a 500,000 square foot facility. Was huge, and each zone had a color to it. They had a map on the wall which outlined zone and showed what color they were in those zones. What they did was they made sure all of the cleaning equipment was the same color. Let’s say it was green for zone two, all the tools in zone two would be, color-coded broom code, color-coded handle, etc., that would be green. And we have all those on our website.

David Visco:

In fact, we’ve added a ton of new color-coded cleaning tools recently. Let’s say you have some two whalers that you want to stay in that area. Well, just put some tape around it, around the handle. Still, whatever color, it should be for that particular zone. A lot of folks will also use like quarter-inch vinyl tape and just put it around a tool handle instead of doing that Plasti Dip that I talked about, and folks order that quite often too, and that works well. Just get creative with it. Colors, they can work wonders, to just help standardize and separate one area from another.

Maribeth Ross:

Our next question is about floor marking. “We’re one of those companies that is not employing floor marking optimally. What are some tips for getting started with floor marking?”

David Visco:

Yeah, that’s a challenge a lot of folks have. What I find is most people, they order a tape because they think it might be the right tape, and they just don’t know any better. They might have a smooth floor and order a tape that would be better suited to a porous floor. So you’re already starting on the wrong foot because you’ve got the wrong tape. And then when they get the tape, most people don’t know how to install it properly.

David Visco:

With floor tape, now we have two different types of… Well, we have a couple different types of heavy- duty tape. But our most popular is the viZ-Mark, which is used for smooth floors, and Durastripe Supreme that’s used for porous floors. Assuming you get the right tape to begin with, and you can always call us and we can help. In fact, we’ll even send a sample so that you can test it out.

David Visco:

What you always you want to do once you pick the right tape, is install it right. These two tapes that I mentioned, the heavy-duty ones, they have a pressure-sensitive adhesive on them. What that means is you need to tamp the tape into the floor, not just step on it with your foot, because that’s really not enough weight. You have an arch in your foot and that just doesn’t work really well.

David Visco:

So you want to make sure you install it properly. You can roll over it with a forklift or maybe even have a landscape roller or whatnot. Just go right over the tape and help press it into the ground. Of course, before you do any of that, you need to clean the floor and dry it really well too.

Maribeth Ross:

Helpful, David. Well, thank you to our viewing audience for the questions that were submitted. I’m excited to share with you that we have a special offer for you today as a thank you for attending our webinar. David is offering $500 off of an on-site 5S assessment. If this is something that you’re interested in, please contact David directly for details if you’d like to take advantage of the offer. Here’s some info on how to reach him.

Maribeth Ross:

You can see that his email and his direct phone number are on the screen. We also have included on here a number of resources that might be helpful to you. David talked about his book earlier. But we also have a free area of the 5S Store website called 5S Blackboard. This is an area that hosts best practices content, and downloadable tools, and a blog about the topic of 5S that you can access at any time. So please visit.

Maribeth Ross:

You can also register on Blackboard so that you get updated via email when new stuff goes up. As always, we have our social sites on the right-hand side. Please give us a follow, and our store, the 5S Store, can be found at www.the5Sstore.com. Thank you again for joining our webinar and have a great afternoon.

David Visco:

Bye

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