Thursday, February 01, 2007

6S in the Frame Shop (Part 1)

This is the first in a series of posts on our upcoming kaizen event, a "6S" of the frame shop in our 06 factory in Plant City, Florida. In this article, I'll give some background on the event and describe what's coming up soon. Then, I'll update the blog as we plan, execute, and follow-up on the event. I'll be sure to provide photos, spaghetti diagrams, cycle time data, and plenty of commentary. Now, let's get started with some preliminary information.

As you probably know, the purpose of a 6S event is to create a higher level of stability and reliability in a work area. It can be on the shopfloor, in an office, or on an internet server. It is a foundation builder in that it sets the stage for more advanced Lean improvements. For example, if you want to create a one-piece flow cell in your wall department, you first need to determine whether the wall framing and wall paneling operations are capable of performing at the same rate over and over again. Remember, if one operation goes down in a flow, then the entire line goes down; each operation must perform consistently. If the wall framing doesn't keep up with wall paneling, then paneling will soon have to shut down. Any numbers of factors could cause the wall framing operation to fail to keep up: insufficient material, rework, absenteeism, and so on. A 6S event allows you to improve the reliability of an operation by creating and maintaining a clean, organized, and efficient workplace. This leads to better performance and improved employee morale as their work environment is more pleasant. Now for the definition of the 6S's:

1) Sort - means to go through the area and determine what is needed for current production. Anything not needed is red-tagged and discarded in an orderly manner. It's a good idea to have a red-tag area designated in advance to house "quarantined" material/equipment/etc.

2) Safety - More important than anything else is the safety of the work area. Before determining the future layout of the area, take into account any existing safety hazards. Eliminate them, and do not build-in any safety hazards into the new layout. Clearly mark hazard zones, keep safety equipment in prime operating condition, fix any structural elements that are damaged, and so on.

3) Set-In-Order - Take what is left and put it in the right place. By right place, I mean the location that most reduces waste. Remember, excessive walking is waste, waiting is waste, damage is waste. Choose locations for materials/equipment/etc. that allow the opration to flow without delays. Label racks so that material is easily identified; delineate dumpster locations on the floor; move equipment closer together to reduce walking distances, use shadow figures to outline where handtools go; create open lines of sight. The 2nd S is your opportunity to get things right on your area layout.

4) Shine - Now that you have everything where you want it, it's time to get everything in top working condition. This means cleaning, repairing, refurbishing, and replacing everything in the area. The goal here is to set the standard that you would like to maintain for the long-haul.

5) Standardize - Once everything is looking the way you want it, it's time to lock it in with clear, visual procedures for maintaining the first 4 S's. By standardizing the upkeep of the area, you will ensure that the area doesn't slip back into old habits. Use visual control boards to communicate areas of responsibility. Make the team leader in an area be responsible for the follow-up on the assignments. Have the supervisor meet with the team leader regularly to go over issues and ideas.

6) Sustain - Create the conditions necessary to sustain the improvements for the long-term. Go back and check that the standard maintenance and cleaning requirements are being followed. Reward those who adhere to the spirit of the improvements. Post before & after photos of the area. Have a BBQ. Do whatever it takes to prevent regression and create dedication to orderliness.
Once the 6S's have been implemented, the operations should be able to operate more efficiently. The next step is to link your newly stabilized process with another stable process in a one-piece flow (for more on flow click here). If one-piece flow is not plausible, then a pull system is the next best thing (for more on pull systems click here). Once flow and/or pull have been achieved, then the process cell should be much more capable and powerful than it ever was before the improvements.

Additionally, if problems arise in a process flow for whatever reason (new product, bad design, bad material, etc.), it will become immediately apparent because there's no room for error in a flow system. This will focus everybody's attention on fixing the problem and eliminating the root cause. This is the real power of flow, but you can't get there until each operation within the process is stable and reliable. Hence, we love the 6S's.

Here are the key people that will be involved in the 6S event in our frame shop:

1) Champion - the Production Manager of the 06 plant

2) Captain - the Supervisor of the frame shop

3) Team Members - the Team Leader of the frame shop, the Associates from the frame shop, and the Team Leaders from all of the other departments in the factory)

4) Lean Advocate - me, I'll provide technical assistance and logistical support
We'll meet this coming Monday to do a quick orientation, and then we'll spend the rest of the day planning our event based on the ideas of the Captain and Team Members. It has to be their event, not the Champion's, and certainly not mine. Then, we'll spend two weeks getting things lined up for the event. The majority of the event itself will be performed over the course of one day. Then, we'll do some follow-up work and prepare a presentation to show our results. I'll keep you up-to-date as we go. Any questions, thoughts, suggestions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Wish us luck!

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