On it’s surface, 3S (usually referred to as 5S) looks like a program for cleaning and organizing your workplace. While there is plenty of cleaning and organizing, as with everything in lean, there is a deeper meaning – and a deeper benefit.
3S culture develops basic lean work habits and abilities, and provides the foundation on which other lean methods can be introduce. Some habits that are developed through 3S:
3S is a great place to get your lean transformation up and running. Everyone gets to participate in transformation, and can see the differences they are making. Management and leadership can visually gauge the progress (this is very lean!). It is an eye-opening experience when people realize just how much “stuff” is getting in their way every day, and how little they really needto deliver great value to the customer. 3S is also a terrific morale booster which makes the workplace somewhere to be proud of.
The transformational power that lies within a 3S rollout is catalytic! As your team begins to see the benefits, they will start to ask the explosive question: “What else can we do, and how much more can we improve?”
3S is applicable in every part of your organization. In fact, 3S wouldn’t be effective if it wasn’t applied everywhere. Below are some benefits of 3S:
- “Cleaning the window” so that the work/workflow can be seen without struggle
- At-a-glance understanding of the status of the current work
- Work is completed more simply (i.e., more quickly, with less struggle)
- Employees use less energy or time looking for things or struggling / more time adding value
- Prevention of confusion / errors
- Removal of variation in work activities
- Equipment is kept reliable and produces consistent results
- A more consistent customer experience
- Improved safety
It’s fair to say that this is what every business wants, but few know how to get there. Lean results cannot be separated from 3S. It is a necessary “what we do” in order to create the right workplace situation to deliver the competitive performance a business needs. 3S is not about being organized and clean; it is about transparency and a commitment to excellence.
- Understand how 3S as a culture and a habit will “prepare the soil” for lean progress by making waste visible and simplifying the application of standardized work
- Be able to implement 3S at all levels of your organization
- Prepare for and avoid some of the common mistakes made during a 3S or 5S rollout