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Out of Office: Time Away From the Cubicle

Friday, September 1, 2017 | Lean, Out of Office

Anytime I visit a client who is eager to implement Lean Manufacturing tools, my first question is what do you need and why? And in many occasions, clients ask for reducing inventory and speeding up process. However, in order to reach that level, they need to go through a journey that will destroy some myths connected to manufacturing such as having production machines working full time all the time is the best situation. Hint: It is IF you are selling all that production. Approaches such as Kanban and SMED, and tools such as Takt Time and Spaghetti Diagrams help to achieve that goal.

But it always starts with two milestones in an implementation: Value Stream Map and 5S.

In this entry, I would like to talk a tiny bit about 5S and its impact in small business. 5S stands for Sort, Set In Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain, or the original Japanese transliterated into Roman script Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke. It is a program to organize, clean, and enhance the performance in the work area. It sounds simple, and it is simple, but in today’s busy world, we lose track of keeping our work area ready, and we end up with a mess in our desk, a dirty shop, and unorganized businesses.

The 5S is focused in setting, locating, and giving a specific location of materials, parts, tools, everything in the shop floor and work areas using common sense and allowing to anyone to distinguish between normal and abnormal situations.

The impact in small companies is tremendous. Since the members of this type of company need to jump in many different roles, having 5S in place helps to adapt faster to new duties and tasks. It also permits speed the response time when new challenges show up. The physical space is used more wisely and efficiently, and overall 5S prepares the company to be ready for the next steps of a Lean Manufacturing Implementation Project.

5S doesn’t ensure success in Lean Manufacturing implementation, but not having 5S in place assures failure of all efforts.

As part of Target Rural Enterprise Project we can provide noncomplex, basic, short term projects for self-implementation in different tools and concepts of Lean Manufacturing, such as 5S.  Contact us to learn how we can help!!

Miguel is an international bilingual senior manager, with experience in implementation and maintenance of Quality Management Systems and process improvement, project management, customer and vendor relations, in nationwide companies, different environments, and industries. He loves new challenges and is eager to learn about new processes. He can analyze any process and apply his skills and knowledge to transform it into a standardized, efficient, and lean process. Miguel has lived in Spain, Mexico, and Colorado, just to name a few places. Â He is fluent in both English and Spanish. 
Out of Office is a collection of his musings, travels, and experiences in Washington State. He welcomes comments, questions, and requests for free business valuations.  He can be reached at


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