5S FOLLOW-UP STORY: The Right Tool in the Right Place

Newark, Ohio Plant Manager Brandon Bruns is eliminating the, “Oh, we might needs this” philosophy from his staff. “I want to throw away the hoarder concept,” he said. “Especially for Newark, I want this place to look great and organized, but make money at the same time.”

Last year, the Newark plant began the long journey of implementing 5S principles plant wide. 5S is a five-step method that focuses on putting everything where it belongs and keeping the workplace clean, which makes it easier for people to do their jobs without wasting time or risking injury. The five steps are sort, set (or straighten), shine, standardize and sustain. In other words, begin with getting rid of any unnecessary tools or equipment, organize the tools that remain, clean and inspect the work area, write standards for 5S and consistently apply those standards into the future.

Implementing 5S principles in all company branches is the ultimate goal of a three-step company project to reemphasize the importance of cleanliness, beginning with adopting a “Culture of Cleanliness” this year. The second and third steps in the process are deep cleaning and 5S, respectively.

Bruns said the 5S process is challenging, but beneficial. “Don’t go in halfway,” he said. “You want to go all in and don’t give up. Everybody has to buy into it for it to work. The management really has to be strong and police it well. If not, it’ll fall apart.”

Bruns discovered several advantages in enforcing 5S values. “Obviously, things are organized and it’s easier to find them,” he said. “It increases safety, too, because things are placed in an assigned spot and marked,” Bruns said 5S also stops people from wandering aimlessly, wondering where everything goes or leaving something behind where it doesn’t belong.

Industrial Water General Manager Tim Dondero agreed. “5S principles are more than keeping a clean work area. If done correctly it will standardize the tools needed for the jobs, which will save time and money,” he said. “Organizing tools in a way that make it easy to locate and only having tools needed for the job allows us to save money purchasing items we do not need.”

Jacksonville Macclenny Branch Manager Deshay Peterson is implementing 5S principles into the branch’s culture. “While the initial process of organizing and aligning the Jacksonville Branch with the 5S principles was tedious, it was well worth it,” he said, adding that the deep cleaning was the hardest part. “We have completed the steps of sort, set and shine in the process. Now we must standardize and sustain,” he said.

Peterson said it is imperative that all staff members understand the importance of placing everything where it belongs and keeping the workplace clean in order to accomplish all five steps successfully. “Following the 5S principles will lead to cleaner company vehicles, buildings and equipment,” he said. “Additionally, we would see improved safety among employees.” Peterson thanked ICG Maintenance Manager Aaron Thompson for leading the implementation of 5S principles in the Jacksonville Branch.

“Jacksonville started with a big clean and improved organization,” said EHS Manager Anthony Tagliaferro. “They’ve definitely created a Culture of Cleanliness with what they did; they’re setting an example.” He said the Culture of Cleanliness is infectious. “When you embrace it, the positive impact radiates, as everyone is motivated to maintain the standard of cleanliness.”

Tagliaferro encourages all branches to come up with a plan to re-commit to the culture of cleanliness at their site and how they want to do it, set forth a goal and see what can be done this year. “Approach your facility with a renewed perspective, identifying opportunities for improvement in cleanliness,” he advises. “Consider what areas might be overlooked or need attention.”

Tagliaferro said everyone who has committed to the Culture of Cleanliness has done a great job and he invites managers to share their success stories by sending him photos of their cleaning initiatives.

Bruns said implementing 5S is a patient, long-term process. “I know from experience that I don’t work well with disorder and disorganization,” he said. “The thing I learned, too, is as soon as you get new employees, you want to start coaching them right away. It can be tough to keep everyone on task, but you have to keep reminding them.”

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