How to Implement Toyota 5s Methodology – Step 4 Standardisation

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The fourth article of our voyage into the world of the 5S is centred about Seiketsu. This step both brings together and builds upon the previous three steps of the 5s methodology: sort, put in order, clean . Without it, the other steps risk being forgotten about; being confined to a brief period of efficiency for your organisation.

What is Seiketsu?

Seiketsu means to standardise. It is used to ensure a workplace remains consistently organised throughout its operations. It is also one of the simplest of the 5s methodology, and one of the easiest to implement. Seiketsu builds upon the first few steps of the 5s methodology. It is essentially standardising the practices and things implemented as a result of the first three steps of 5s.

By the time you or your workplace has gotten to Seiketsu, your organisation should be much leaner and more efficient. With Seiketsu, you standardise the things you have done in the previous steps to ensure that they remain in the future. It is all about maintaining efficient and infinitely repeatable standards across your organisation.

As well as ensuring  the first steps of 5s become the standard, Seiketsu also paves the way for further innovation. By standardising and fully implementing the processes developed, they can be further analysed and improved upon in the future. If it turns out the changes you’ve made end up hindering your business in some way, the documentation and standardisation implemented as a result of Seikettsu allows you to retrace your steps and analyse the cause of the problem.

How do you implement it?

Implementation of Seiketsu is essentially just actively standardising outcomes of the previous steps of 5s. This can involve converting the steps and activities undertaken in the previous S’ into documentation such as SOP’s. As an example we shall look at the standardisation of the 3rd S; Seison. To standardise cleanliness, documentation should cover what dirt needs eliminating, what cleaning should be performed daily, what quickly and what should be performed less frequently?

Beyond these questions, tasks need documenting. For instance; documentation may cover what tasks are required in each area; for example steps taken to perform Seiso could be clean surfaces, dissemble and clean machinery, as well as how to clean certain parts and components. Other things which may need documentation include where the dirt comes from, whether or not the dirt can be permanently eliminated and how often the task should be performed.

What are the benefits?

As discussed previously, standardisation leads to enhanced future innovation and error prevention. It also ensures that activities are not forgotten about. Take Seison for example. The benefits discussed in the last article, such as improved employee morale, less downtime for maintenance and greater error prevention, can all be achieved by doing as little as 5 minutes of cleaning per day. However to ensure the benefits of Seison are fully exploited, the cleaning machine needs to become integral to the process. The activities and timeframes of the cleaning therefore need to be put into an SOP and continuously monitored by management or quality departments.

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