Every January, advertisements aimed at individuals looking to slim down seem to be everywhere, but what about the business side of getting leaner? “Lean manufacturing” has become somewhat of a buzzword outlining a new model of doing business designed to increase productivity and keep overhead costs low. Electro Kinetic Technologies helps companies refine their material handling processes and lower their overhead costs every day, so we thought we’d put together some helpful tips for businesses looking to improve workplace efficiency in their warehouse or workspace.
Start At the Beginning
The “5S” concept of lean manufacturing involves creating a space that is the most conducive to getting the job done on time and avoiding hiccups along the way by keeping people and materials organized. Each ‘S’ stands for Sort, Set In Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. Sorting all of your workplace materials keeps unnecessary tools and equipment out of the way, and allows you to then “set in order” all of the necessary tools for the job. Cleaning workspaces as work is done (shine) prevents work-stoppage from avoidable repairs and organizational overhauls, while standardizing the overall process establishes a consistent system for organization, manufacturing, and workspace maintenance. The final ‘s’ for “sustain” means continually revising and perfecting the entire process for maximum workplace efficiency when problems arise.
What Comes Next
Sorting and setting your warehouse into order might mean redesigning the layout or shelving units in a way that keeps workflow moving at a regular pace. Even after taking a look at your workspace and developing consistent cleaning and organizational standards, it might be apparent that more drastic improvements are still necessary. This is where the final ‘s’ becomes the most important. Sustaining an efficient system means being on the look out for ways that warehouse efficiency is slowing down or running into logistical impediments. Is the forklift too big and unsafe to transport certain materials within your space? Are your employees becoming too fatigued or showing signs of carpal tunnel, back pain, or other indicators of musculoskeletal injury, necessitating more frequent breaks and time off for doctor’s visits? Is it apparent that transporting certain delicate or bulky materials with existing technology is slowing down the overall operation?
Seeking out design solutions that improve overall organization and storage within a space, and implementing proper ergonomic transport equipment suited to the materials you’re moving may be the next step in sustaining the 5S system. As engineers, we suggest consulting with professionals that can help with the technical process of making serious changes in order to ensure that your time and money is spent in the right direction. If you’ve checked off all 5 of the above steps, and would like to pursue bigger changes to help your workplace efficiency become even leaner, feel free to contact us.