Throughout this year, Wilmot Modular Structures has undergone a transformation by training on and implementing the 5S Lean program across our organization. 5S, which stands for sort, straighten and set, shine and sweep, standardize, and sustain, is a program based on lean manufacturing methods that help improve material management, storage processes, and supporting a culture of problem-solving and collaboration. The Wilmot team underwent a two-week initial training, has continued progress meetings, and is currently rolling out this methodology in our business processes. We're excited to share that we are already seeing the results of the training and its effect on our business!
Method of Approach
To start, we took a good hard look at what was currently working and the things we wanted to improve upon. We summarized this into two lists:
Things already working well:
- • Partnerships with other modular structure organizations to improve efficiencies
- • Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) has been helping performance
- • Regular meetings to discuss issues and share improvements
- • Strong network of trusted suppliers
- • Employee willingness to share obstacles and problems
Things we wanted to improve:
- • Some equipment was not optimal and stored outdoors in harsh conditions
- • Wide distribution of part storage, causing wasted time to find the right part
- • Poor inventory tracking, causing excess or shortages
- • Storing inventory on-site when purchased in bulk
During this exercise, we also identified the values that are important to management and front-line employees in their work environment. After defining our strengths, weaknesses, and values, we were then able to set our goals for the 5S implementation.
Goals and Desired Outcomes
Our goals were defined by the direction we hope to take our company in the future and other organizational growth goals. Our goals included:
- • Identify metrics to track our progress (financial, operational, staff satisfaction)
- • Track real-time information about parts and materials
- • Create incentives for improvement
- • Eliminate unnecessary part duplication
- • Eradicating downtime
- • Use the front half of the shop as a test area for the new 5S initiative
These goals define what we are working towards and provide the ground work for the 5S mentality we want in our organization.
The 5S Lean Process and Rollout
1. Training (two weeks)
During this two-week period, we began training on 5S and other Lean fundamentals that would aid our progression. This was also a time to introduce 5S to our front line workers, generate enthusiasm, and share the mutual benefits to be had by all. We capped it all off by attending a field trip together.
2. Sort (one week)
The sort stage came next. This was our opportunity to remove clutter and eliminate any unnecessary items that might cause a distraction or make it harder to get an employee to get their job done.
Getting rid of unnecessary items is a key part of the Sort stage.
3. Set in Order and Shine (one month)
We needed to be efficient, and in order to do so, we had to be organized. We made sure all our tools and inventory were easy to find by anyone through visual cues and instructions.
An organized and labeled storage room makes all the difference.
To help us eliminate downtime, all the equipment and parts needed to be functional and working. We repaired anything not working and put procedures in place for what to do during a breakdown.
4. Standardize and Sustain (two months)
Perhaps one of the most important stages, the Standardize and Sustain stage is how we ensure all our progress lasts us well into the future. To do this, we implemented standardized procedures and updated management methods. For example, we developed standardized layouts and labeling systems so that everyone knows and abides by the same organization techniques, eliminating wasted time and lost inventory.
It's also essential for all levels of the staff to have ownership of their roles within the system. Long-term ownership improves productivity and lessens waste, while also improving working conditions and morale. We are currently still in the Standardize and Sustain page, but are already starting to see positive results!
Creating a Lasting Impact
Although often challenging to put the 5S program in place while still keeping up with customer demands, our team has met these challenges with enthusiasm and vigor. The results are already starting to speak for themself!
We've seen a drastic improvement in our Operations and working atmosphere; every single member of the team has an opportunity to give their input and have an impact. We are accomplishing our goals and seeing improvements in employee morale, financial gain, and productivity and efficiency in offsite construction planning for example.
If you'd like to collaborate with us and learn more about how we implemented 5S to improve our business, please do not hesitate to contact us.