All I Really Need To Know About 5S I Learned From Grandma

“A place for everything and everything in its place”, that’s the mantra Grandma drilled into me daily during the summers I spent with her and Grandpa.  All the cooking utensils and hand operated machines in the kitchen were her tools and like any gifted artisan, she created masterpieces with them.  She also taught me, in order to be creative, inspired and efficient in the kitchen, you needed to respect your work area and the tools!   Everything had to be stored in its proper assigned place, kept clean, sharp and ready for use in an instant.  They were from the old country and this is how they were brought up.  Even the small barn in the back of the house where Grandpa’s workshop was located was spotless, organized and free of clutter.  I looked forward at the end of the day, to help Grandpa matching up the tool with it’s corresponding drawn figure on the pegged wall.  They both were in constant motion from dawn until bedtime but it gave them purpose and they were very proud of their property.  What Grandma didn’t know at the time was she was training me on her own version of a 5S program which is a key building block of any Quality Warehouse.

What is 5S exactly?  Briefly,  It’s a concept developed in Japan that is a way to keep one organized and ensure good housekeeping in the workplace.  5S offers organization and standardization, improves safety, working efficiency, improved productivity and helps motivation and instills pride.  The 5S are:    Seiri – Clearing up.  Seiton – Organizing.  Seiso – Cleaning.  Seiketsu – standardizing.  Shitsuke – self-discipline.  There are also variations of 5S like 6S (Sort, Straighten, Sweep, Standardize, Self-Discipline, Safety).  Either way, don’t let the terminology intimidate you.  You can call it by any name you want, I refer to it as using common sense, but you do need a vehicle to help keep your warehouse neat, organized, clean and ready for whatever challenges the work day brings.  A great reference I found for 5S questions is 5S Supply.  I recommend signing up for their blog.   http://blog.5ssupply.com/author/5ssupplycom/

Grandma also taught me, it is a concept that can also be used at home just as well to keep things so you know where to find them when you need them.  Just think, when your home is clean and organized any project you tackle is so much easier to do.  Think about your hobby room?  How difficult is it to scrapbook when everything is organized and easy to get too?  Apply this concept to your pantry at home.  How many times have you bought something you thought you needed because you couldn’t find it but only to find it buried underneath a bag walnuts a few days later?  When the pantry is organized:  baking goods, oils, canned goods, grains, snacks it’s easy to take a quick look-see and know what you need to buy at the store.  Same applies to the company tool room or supply store.  When you know what parts are on hand and when you need to reorder you’re not wasting valuable time searching for something you think you have.

Whatever 5S program you decide to put in place, it sets the tone for your team at the warehouse.  Employees are more productive, like beautiful flowers in a well lighted, enriched environment free of trip hazards as opposed to being like mushrooms in a dark, dirty place.  O.K.  You are now a step closer to a Quality Warehouse.  More tips to complete this journey coming.  Any thoughts and suggestions are always welcome.