Fleet Management & Forklift Safety Blog

When Your Lean 5s Warehouse Strategy Isn’t Really Lean

Posted by Neil O'Connell, SVP Technology, Innovation, & Product Development on Apr 24, 2018 4:00:00 AM

It takes more than just drafting a plan for your Lean 5 strategy to work. Like anything that creates value in your warehouse, there will be obstacles. Just like transforming your body to be lean, it  takes continuous work and commitment. The key to success is recognizing the signs when it’s time to restructure how you are approaching Lean 5s. bodybuilder-646482_1280

Lean 5S also only works if everyone uses it. It is a tool to increase efficiency now, and build on that in the future. But, it can be easy for some employees to fall back into their old habits and patterns of doing things. So, there are several signs that will tell you that things are not as lean as they should be. For example:

  • Change-resistant employees

Lean warehousing is a mindset, not a just program you deploy. In contrast to traditional management methods, it requires changing the culture of a warehouse and the way employees think about everyday tasks. If you see employees slipping back into old habits, it’s important to get them back on board with lean thinking.

  • Communication has stalled

If the effects of change are not acknowledged, those in the trenches experiencing it will develop resistance. The solution is to create ongoing, open communication and share data to demonstrate both the need for improvement and the success that has been reached along the way.

Re-evaluate LEAN 5S practices

5S is comprised of easy-to-remember steps that play an intricate role in a facility's ability to successfully sustain the 5S processes: sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain.

To re-evaluate your plan, bring your teams together and review which practices had sustainable success and which ones allowed for old habits creep back in.

Here’s how:

  • Use the 5 whys to determine why some practices were successful and why some fell short.
  • Use your baseline data (when you started) and compare this to current reports to determine where improvements were realized. Data will back up theories and show areas with measured improvements. It can also be used to show areas of success to employees.
  • Determine training needs: Do teams need refresher training on the 5S plan, or are there new employees who need standard training?

Establishing that Lean 5S is expected

Once everyone has revisited results — the challenges and successes to date — there are two important steps to take.  It is vital to standardize and systematize the process changes.

Essentially, this means management must establish that 5S practices are expected, even after initial goals are realized. It means that:

  • Management has committed to continuously monitor tasks and lean processes and share results and improvements.
  • There will be ongoing revisions to the plan if something isn’t working.
  • There will be training and reminders for employees in connection to the ongoing goals and best practices in place to achieve benchmarks.

Lean 5S warehouse practices should be part of a fluid plan, evaluated and changed as needed to meet goals. Ideally, your telematics platform should provide comprehensive insight, allowing you to make changes required to improve processes and efficiencies.

Topics: the future of telematics, Lean 5S, proactive warehouse solutions, value driven strategies, waste stream reduction, telematic data

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