Lean Maintenance: 5S Your Maintenance Department

Lean principles and practices are synonymous with manufacturing today.  Despite the widespread adoption of Lean tools in manufacturing, it is surprising that they are rarely utilized by maintenance.  This is even more surprising when we (production) tend to ask the maintenance department for help implementing Lean in our production areas.  In a time when unnecessary costs and waste are being minimized and value maximized, the simple truth is that maintenance can benefit from the same Lean tools and principles.  

One of the fundamental Lean tools that can be adopted by maintenance is the 5S tool. The 5S’s are used to organize productions areas in order to operate and changeover our equipment in the most efficient way. The 5S’s are used to identify the hand tools, tooling, fixtures, etc in such a way that our operators can locate, use and return them quickly, easily, and efficiently. We remove all unused, unneeded, and obsolete items from the area then we arrange the remaining items in a neat, orderly fashion.  This organization also breeds a standard operating and care procedure; there is a higher likelihood that tools will be returned, cleaned and cared for in an efficiently run 5S environment.

  1. SORT
  3. SHINE

If you are not already doing so, use the 5S’s to organize and standardize your maintenance work areas. Tools such as ladders, cordless drills and saws, gear pullers, etc, are often shared resources and should be properly cleaned, maintained and easy to locate when we need them.

Maintenance personnel’s time is valuable and unnecessary time spent searching for tools that should be readily available is very costly and inefficient. Keeping your work areas and equipment clean, organized and in good repair allows your maintenance personnel to focus their energies towards equipment reliability instead of searching for the tools they need to do their jobs.

Here is an visual example of a 'before and after' 5S implementation. You can easily see how the “after” state allows for a much more effective, efficient and productive maintenance department; which we all know ultimately leads to a more reliable plant.

Before and After

Begin your 'Lean maintenance program'. Start applying 5S principles to your maintenance department and begin reaping the many benefits!


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