Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. We’re all well aware of the lean manufacturing 5S methodology. But how many of us have integrated this into our business plan? If you haven’t, it’s important to understand just how much of an impact it could have on your organization without investing money, but rather time.

Although the concept seems relatively simple – eliminate waste, keep a clean workspace and be consistent – success depends on the organization and a team’s willingness to participate and adopt the methodology.

We appreciated this recent article in Assembly Magazine about Philips Respironics, the magazine’s 2011 Assembly Plant of the Year. In the article, the company’s leaders discuss how they considered the effect 5S could have on their productivity and essentially their bottom line, as well as their culture as a whole. They immediately realized its value after only implementing a few small changes, allowing each associate to recognize their part, although seemingly effortless, made a huge difference to their work day and the company’s operations.

Stefanie Lozito, continuous improvement leader for Philips Resperonics told Assembly Magazine, “A lot of small improvements add up to large savings and provide an opportunity for anyone to impact their working environment at any time.”

Our team at Amend Consulting has witnessed time and time again just how much the 5S methodology can virtually transform a manufacturing company, allowing them to identify holes in their processes just by reviewing their environment. But we also recognize that it is just a tool in the tool box. How it’s implemented can make all the difference.

If your team is with you and willing to make small changes to their day-to-day job functions, this strategy in combination with other lean tools and training and development strategies have a tremendous potential for return on investment.

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