#4S - Standardize
The fourth S demands that we formalize our effort to tag items, to determine an ordering process for placement of tools, equipment, and even vehicles. This requires that we develop standard operating procedures where helpful in order to educate all workers on how we take care of tools, equipment and vehicles. Standardizing even our cleaning efforts will help develop our workers into alert employees interested in becoming known as a clean company whom customers love to have perform their particular trade.
A very real and key benefit to #4S is that all of this effort tends to positively, and profitably, impact how your workers will actually perform their jobs. It simply goes against human nature that if they are already expected to work with more commitment to organization, cleaning, consistency of quality, etc., that they would somehow become brain-dead at the very instant of performing their work.
Pride is very real and can be observed by even the most casual bystander as one begins to see construction workers who go the extra step to ensure a cleaner jobsite, a better maintained tool or piece of equipment, and a more thorough approach to the actual work. Standardize must become your expectation for yourself and your workers if it is to begin to produce profitable results.
#5S - Sustain
Holding your workers accountable to Standardize the Sort, Set in order, and Shine is at the heart of the fifth and final S. This requires a balance of both proactive support through the creation of standard operating procedures, signs, tags, etc. and the immediate handling of those workers who fail to comply with 5S practices.
To make Sustain your company's mantra is to preach it , encourage it and recognize it daily. Like any new program there may be some extra attention applied in the first few weeks but when the first long hot stretch in the weather or those continuous 65 to 70 hour weeks begin to add up the commitment to 5S can quickly take a backseat.
Owners must lend their hearty support to Sustain the progress made and sustained. Owners must become fanatical about wanting to see their crews work more efficiently, using tools and equipment that are more usable, and being consistent to bring quality, cleanliness and organization to their daily efforts.
5S can be very helpful to your efforts to create and maintain a cleaner and more organized construction firm. Begin your effort by first observing the current mode of cleanliness and maintenance practiced by you and your crews. Record how often tools are broken, how often you have to have someone working on vehicles or equipment. Walk around your jobsites, and your yard, and notice how clean and organized the locations are. Even take note of how long some of your workers seem to take looking for misplaced or lost tools, gas cans, shop towels, truck keys, etc. Start today to make 5S part of your strategy of bringing greater effectiveness and efficiency to your business and watch that profitability start to rise.
Brad Humphrey is a management and system consultant to the construction industry. Brad continues to assist many construction firms through his personal involvement, speaking at conferences, and providing many hours of helpful instruction on CDs and books. You may find many of Brad's materials by going to www.gangboxinc.com or visiting www.pinnacledg.com.