The Cost of Workplace Disorganization

April 03, 2014

by Laurel Suchecki

When you walk around your production floor do you see forgotten coffee cups, trash on the bench or piles of swept up debris that has not made it any further?  If so, have you thought about how this affects your productivity, quality or morale.  Often basic housekeeping is overlooked in favor of “productivity.” This is a common practice but one that costs you over the long run.  

What you are actually communicating to your workforce, non-verbally? By not insisting on better habits, you are actually implying that you do not care about how they treat the work place, the equipment or, for that matter how they get the job done.  

Many of the manufacturing companies we work with in Connecticut are small, and often run with minimal staff. So days are usually filled with solving one crisis after another. Taking the time to speak to someone about how they treat the workplace is often the last thing on anyone’s agenda, but the consequences are exponential.

It is not expensive or overly time consuming to have a basic 5S program. The Lean tool of 5S is an organizational system including:

  1. Sort out what’s not needed, and bring in what is needed, throughout your work space.
  2. Set in Order all of the things you use to create work product. Put things where they make the most sense. Categorize each of your tools, and keep a quantity on hand that makes sense.
  3. Shine.  This is more than just getting out the polishing cloth. We help you define what “clean” looks like, and then make sure all of your tools are properly labeled and cleaned. When you are cleaning you also need to inspect your tools and equipment for any repair needs, etc. You are looking for anything that is not normal in the work place.
  4. Standardize all the rules to keep 5S going forward – when will you sort again, what is the schedule for cleaning, what does clean look like, etc.
  5. Sustain this entire process. Also known as Self Discipline, which we all know is the hardest part. You will need to create some infrastructure around auditing, communication and how continued processes will be attained.

5guide to 5SS creates “a place for everything, everything in its place, safe, clean and ready to use.” The rewards are a more disciplined work force which leads to better adherence to standard work. This in turn leads to predictable use of labor and materials and improved quality. With a little training and small increments of time to work on it over the course of a couple weeks, you can start to build the foundation for increased workplace organization.

The key tie in to discipline is in the creation of a simple 5S Daily Task List that is clearly stated and visibly posted in the area. Having expectations clearly defined and posted makes the conversion a lot easier to have. People will respond; what is important to one’s boss is important to one’s self.  You get what you measure. These sayings may be cliché, but they are true.

You can also create a simple 3S audit that your staff can review daily/weekly to keep themselves on track.  If you provide them a method to improve how the workplace looks, soon they will provide feedback on how the workplace can be improved as well.

A 3S Audit would include:

  1. Sort to eliminate clutter.
  2. Set in Order and put everything in its place.
  3. Shine to clean and inspect your tools and equipment

If you cannot control what your staff does with their trash you cannot control how they will create your product.  It is the most basic form of Standard Work.  They cannot follow what is not trained, documented and audited. 5S is so rarely implemented, yet it lays the foundation for all other continuous improvement efforts.

CONNSTEP solved a huge problem for us and helped us bring our delivery rate to 100%. As a direct result of that, we have been awarded with an increase in business which, ultimately, will also benefit (our supplier) Har-Conn.”

CT manufacturer Pegaasus

Chris DePentima

CEO, Pegasus Manufacturing Inc.

“I see great value in the new experiences and perspectives CONNSTEP brings to our business, at reasonable prices. They’re not like consultants, they’re like partners in the business – willing to roll up their sleeves and help.”

AGRussell logo

Mark Burzynski

President, Arthur G Russell Co

“CONNSTEP has proved to be a tremendous resource for ESI. CONNSTEP has helped us to adapt to today’s marketplace and remain a quality minded, competitive global player. Our ISO/TS16949 implementation process was efficient and rewarding. I look forward to our future projects with CONNSTEP.”

esi CT manufacturer

Ron Delfini

President, Engineering Specialties Inc.

“CONNSTEP worked with FuelCell Energy to educate and facilitate Lean initiatives and to help meet our needs to establish an overall production improvement plan. This plan has been utilized over a period of time as a ‘guiding light’ to spur numerous improvements that dramatically reduced our product cost.”

Tom Lucas

Manager, Fuel Cell Energy

“CONNSTEP is a valuable partner to Hologic, providing the expertise and ‘outside eyes’ everyone needs to keep their continuous improvement on track. We are now well-positioned on a dynamic growth path and look forward to a long-term relationship with CONNSTEP.”

Greg Safarik

VP Manufacturing Operations, Hologic

“Our experience working with CONNSTEP has brought us benefits we never expected. It’s a great team to work with!”

Bruce Wheeler

VP of Operations, Metal Finishing Technologies Inc.

“The goals of the team were to reduce manufacturing lead-time, reduce floor space utilized, and increase worker productivity. All the goals were met. CONNSTEP helped us to better compete.”

Tornik CT manufacturer

Dan Rubbo

General Manager, Tornik LLC

“The Business Growth Program is working well for us. We enhanced our website following the meetings to improve our SEO and become more visible to search engines. The segment on negotiating …  promoted changes in our thinking and improved how we interact with customers. The mentoring between sessions was helpful in boosting our progress.”

CT manufacturer Colonial Spring

Bill Lathrop

President, Colonial Spring Co.

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