Online Learning: 5S Lean Production Tool to Reduce Waste and Costs

This post was contributed by Polaris MEP intern, Melanie Auclair.

We’ve all heard of “lean and mean” but Nathan Bonds is one of the nicest Lean guys on the planet. A Polaris MEP Project Manager, Nathan helps Rhode Island’s manufacturers enjoy greater success by reducing clutter and expenses through Lean manufacturing techniques.

While the current COVID-19 coronavirus landscape has seen many companies shifting to online learning, Nathan has for several years been using the web to deliver guidance around Lean manufacturing. (See? He’s nice!)

“Lean Tip of the Week” (LTotW) series is Nathan’s video classroom. One of the most popular LTotW video series focuses on a lean production tool, 5S.

What is 5s? 

5S is a series of 5 steps that help a manufacturer reduce clutter, interruptions, delays and frustrations. You can hear Nathan detail the benefits in the video which kicks off the LTotW Lean 5S series.

The 5S Lean production tool specifies the steps to: 

  1. Sort
  2. Set in Order
  3. Shine
  4. Standardize
  5. Sustain

5S Results Include Increased Manufacturing Capacity, Decreased Down Time

Polaris MEP helped Spectrum Thermal Processing implement 5S Lean manufacturing processes. The results? In one case, load turnaround time was reduced from one hour to five minutes which ultimately created a 25% increase in capacity. Overall, the 5S program Polaris MEP assisted with allowed them to cut costs by $4,000 each month. 

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Another client, Murdock Webbing Co., used 5S to decrease the amount of time workers spent off the manufacturing floor searching for materials and tools. “We have always struggled for space because of how the mill is broken up, so 5S allowed us to clear clutter, organize our space and look at our equipment,” Greg Pilgrim, Chief Executive Officer. “We utilized the system in our inspection and cutting and blocking areas. In doing all of this we also eliminated different kinds of non-value added waste.”

Even in a business climate that seems mean right now, there are nice ways 5S can help manufacturing companies reduce costs and become more competitive. Check out Nathan’s Lean Tip of the Week 5S video series to learn more or give us a call at 401-270-8896. (It would be nice to hear from you!)

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