Facilities know that using 5S strategies is supposed to improve efficiency and eliminate waste throughout the facility. This, of course, is a very attractive goal that every company will want to take advantage of. Unfortunately, many companies and departments don’t properly measure 5S performance, so they have trouble proving whether or not it was successful.
In addition to being unable to prove the effectiveness of a 5S implementation, failing to measure 5S performance also makes it impossible to know where improvements are needed. Whether you’ve already started a 5S program or you’re just thinking about using these strategies, learning how to properly measure 5S performance is very important. The following five simple tips will help you get started with effective measuring.
Define Measurable Goals
The first, and perhaps most important, tip is to make sure you always have specific goals in mind when implementing any change related to 5S. You never just want to make a change and hope that it has a positive effect on the facility. Instead, come up with your predicted goals and see how it measures up.
This means that you need to have your baseline measurements of where you are when you implement a change and then your specific and realistic goals on where you think the changes will get you. Whether you are attempting to eliminate waste, improve production, improve safety or have some other positive result, you can’t effectively measure 5S performance if you don’t have goals in mind.
Define Measurement Strategies
Part of implementing any change for 5S should be defining exactly what and how you will take measurements. For example, if you are going to move one machine from one side of a facility to another so it is closer to where dependent work is done, you may identify the number of parts per hour as a measurable goal.
On the other hand, you may not think that this change will impact parts per hour but instead the move will eliminate a set number of trips someone has to make across the facility each day. If that is the case, you may want to track what other activities that employee is able to complete now that this unnecessary task is eliminated.
Learning how you will measure these things is very important. To properly do this you should work with the people who will be directly impacted by the change as well as the leadership in those areas. Most changes will tend to have multiple measurable points to consider. The more data you can gather, the more effective your measurements can be.
Automate Where Possible
One problem some companies run into when attempting to measure their 5s performance is that they need to manually gather data about how 5S changes are affecting the facility. This manual gathering of data can quickly eat away at any benefits that a change may have had for the facility.
Whenever possible, information gathering and results measuring should be automated. Some things are easy to automate such as counting how many parts are run through a machine in an average hour. Other things may not seem so simple, but in most cases it is possible to find a way for the performance to be automatically measured.
When you must rely on manual processes, make sure you think about the best way to have them done so that as little wasted time as possible is added to the process.
Allow Sufficient Time for Changes to Realize Full Potential
When a company makes a change inspired by the 5S methodology they often expect to see results almost overnight. While that can certainly happen in some cases, it should not be expected. Whenever making a change you are likely to actually see a negative impact during the initial days or even weeks.
Giving people a chance to get used to the new way of doing things before taking conclusive measurements is very important. If you don’t give a chance for people to ‘settle in’ to a new routine, you won’t really be measuring the results of a new process but just the immediate results of a change.
Measure the Right Things
The last tip is one that is extremely important but often overlooked. You need to make sure you are measuring the right things and understanding that all things are not equally important. For example, in almost all companies the most important thing about a change is going to be how it impacts the bottom line profits (in short and long terms).
So, if you implement a change and find that the amount of wasted materials goes up slightly but the profitability of a line goes up significantly, it is likely a 5S change that you want to keep. Of course, you can always look for ways to bring the amount of wasted materials down over time, but that is going to be secondary to keeping the positive impact to the bottom line.
Each situation will likely have a variety of different measurement points that you can analyze. Ranking them in terms of importance to the business can help ensure you are not just measuring 5S data but also using it properly based on the goals of the company.
Getting the Most Out of 5S
The bottom line when it comes to measuring 5S performance is to remember that the end goal of any waste elimination strategy is to help the business run as efficiently as possible. Taking the time to measure these results properly will help ensure that all the changes and other efforts made due to your 5S strategies will get you the results you’re looking for.
Whether you are a company owner, 5S manager or someone tasked with implementing a 5S strategy, make sure you are following the above 5S performance measurement tips. Along with these, learn how 5S affects your specific business and how you can make sure the facility is getting as much out of this methodology as possible.