Tuesday, February 20, 2007

6S in the Frame Shop (Part 4)

We recently performed our 6S event in the Frame Shop. We brought in all of our group leaders and supervisors, along with some of our best associates, to participate in the event. Our goal was to have people from all areas of the factory participate in the first couple of events to get their feet wet and start the mental process of planning their own 6S event. We began the day around 7:00 a.m. with a brief meeting on the shop floor to go over the plan of attack. Then, we broke up into a couple of sub-groups and went to work. Here's a breakdown of the event:

1) Sort - We had already sorted out most of the unneeded items prior to the event, so there wasn't much left to remove.

2) Safety - We handled some of the safety items prior to the event, and finished some during the event. Safety improvements included: building racks to hold propane cylinders in place, installing 4 new bright lights, fixing a damaged area of the floor, creating a safety zone for stowing a hoisted axle carrier, and installing a safety light at the entrance of the area to warn visitors of when frames are being moved through the air.

3) Set In Order - First, we removed all material from the area. Then, we marked-out and labeled "bays" where each type of material would go. To mark the bays, we painted thick black stripes on the wall from the floor to the overhang above. To label the bays, we installed large label plates above where each type of material goes. We also built new cabinets with shelves to house the smaller inventory items such as screws and bolts.

4) Shine - While we were removing material from the area, we also swept and cleaned. Before marking-out the material storage bays, we painted every wall in the department with light gray paint. In areas where tires (used during the frame-building process) are stored, we painted the walls black to hide the scuffing that occurs. We also repaired some damaged walls and refurbished some beaten-up equipment.

5) Standardize - We're still in the process of completing this step. We plan to post a visual control board for the upkeep of the first 4 S's. In addition to standardizing the maintenance of the work space, we also plan on standardizing the job processes involved with building frames. We foresee visuals of key processes being posted in the area, along with detailed standard work folders.

6) Sustain - This will pretty much be the same for each event. Along with having management audit the upkeep of the first 5S's, we want to positively reinforce the importance of the improvements that have been made.

Overall, we feel good about our results. We have some work to do to finish the event, but we've certainly made some progress. More importantly, we are gaining experience in conducting these types of kaizen events and should be able to execute them better in the future. Having all of our team leaders participate was valuable in that they are already thinking about what they want to improve in their departments. It should be interesting to see if our 6S initiative takes off as everyone gains an understanding of how it can help them.

Along with improving working conditions, 6S exposes problems such as excessive inventory, which creates many types of waste. If we're able to see and eliminate the waste that is surfaced by 6S, then we'll have a good shot at becoming Lean.

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