We spend too much time looking for tools in the MiterSet Shop. It really lathers me up. In a prior life I was a Lean Six Sigma Sensei, leading teams of people to achieve greater productivity through better process management. One of the Lean process principles we used with great results is a methodology called 5S, which stands for: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain.
This week we started to practice the 5S methodology as it pertains to tool management. Here are the steps we took.
Step 1. Sort - We identified the core tools we use in the test shop. Everything else was deemed unnecessary and was moved out of the central workflow. We then took the core tools and placed them on a rolling cart in order of size, use, type, etc.
Step 2. Set in Order - We used Kaizen foam. Kaizen is a Lean word for "change for better" and is associated with a continuous improvement strategy. Kaizen foam is a great way to visually display tools. We organized like tools together, wrenches from smallest to largest, screw drivers in order of size and type, etc. We used each tool to outline its profile and then cut a pocket into the foam into which we set the tool.
Step 3. Shine - We cleaned all the core tools making it easy to see markings required for quick identification. The Kaizen foam displays only those tools set into place. We don't set other tools on the foam. If the tool gets used regularly then it finds a place in the foam. The best practice is to keep the tool inserts clean of debris, other tools, etc. Clutter is the enemy of a Lean process and creates waste. Notice in the 3rd picture (top right) that something is missing. Displaying tools this way make it easy to find tools and to quickly identify when something is missing and what that something actually is. In this case, it's a set of safety goggles.
Step 4. Standardize - We established a standard operating procedure for using the tool cart. There is documentation on the expectations of checking the cart into use, cleaning the tools after use, and checking the cart back in for the next user. This establishes the best practices for how to maintain this improvement to our shop workflow.
Step 5. Sustain - We remain diligent about keeping the other 4 S's in place. A person is assigned responsibility for this part of the workflow. You can bet they keep the rest of the staff inline.