Helping Improve Manufacturing Performance

Improve Profit About Us Improvement Steps Case Studies Our Services Login Contact Us Opinions

Workplace Organisation

Call it workplace organisation, 5S, CANDO, 5C, it is all the same thing, and so simple in theory, yet it appears to be the hardest project to implement in the West, and it is rarely, if ever, seen as a way to improve profit.

It never fails to amaze me that when I am given the privilege of touring a workplace how often there is clutter, and waste on the floor. I can’t resist asking my guide why they pay people for this to happen, and then pay someone else to tidy it up.

When I completed my apprenticeship I went to work in a laboratory in Zϋrich I was impressed that the two pedestal drawers were full to the brim with tools placed in moulded trays. In the UK I was used to having to provide my own tools, some I made, others I bought/borrowed, so when I asked my supervisor why I had so many tools he replied “Mr Burgess, we have hired you to use these tools, not to go look for them” and that was my first skirmish with workplace organisation.

In its simplest form it is a simple philosophy of a place for everything, and everything in its place.

So why isn’t it successfully implemented everywhere?

Well I think there is a belief that tidying up is demeaning, and only a job for unskilled labourers, that there isn’t time to continuously tidy up, and this is non-productive work. Also, it is wasteful getting rid of materials that we haven’t got a use for, but sometime in the future we might be able to use it.

Holding on to everything means that we will soon run out of space to store it, and we can spend time looking to find it, because we know it is around in the workplace somewhere.

Somehow it appears to be more desirable to frantically work around the clutter than to calmly execute jobs in an orderly manner, which in the long run will be more productive.

And as for applying this philosophy into the office environment, examples are so few and far between, emphasising that office work productivity is a complex and usually taboo subject.