CAMM Metals Blog

How 5S Principles Improve Metal Fabrication Job Shops

Posted by CAMM Metals on Mar 31, 2020 2:00:00 PM

In today’s market, it’s critical for job shops to be proactive about standing out, not only to their clients but to their potential employees as well. The modern day job shop faces the unique challenge of appealing to a smaller pool of highly-skilled workers in order to succeed and pass that success off to customers. The methods with which a given job shop operates can make a massive difference when it comes to hiring viable candidates, cutting costs and improving productivity. This is where the lean manufacturing philosophy becomes incredibly valuable. Essentially, lean manufacturing is about eliminating waste and streamlining processes. If you’re interested in learning more, check out this blog post.

Not only can lean philosophy turn a business into a well-oiled machine, but it ensures that each aspect of the operation is treated with equal importance. In the end, this can ensure that a business is highly efficient, which helps the business to pass on the benefits to clients.

There’s no shortage of tools and systems within the lean manufacturing philosophy that businesses use to ensure they’re following the method’s most important principles. One of these tools is “5S.”

Continue reading to learn how this helpful system can benefit both metal fabrication job shops and their customers.


What is the 5S System?

The concept of the Five S’s are one of multiple lean manufacturing tools designed to help increase job-shop efficiency through facility-wide organization and cleanliness. In short, each of the 5S principles help managers and workers achieve greater organization, standardization and efficiency, while reducing costs and improving productivity.

What are the Five S’s?

Sort: The first step of 5S, sort, involves going through all the tools, materials, equipment in a work area to determine what needs to be present and what can be removed/moved elsewhere. A workspace may be better off without unnecessary items or items used infrequently, as these things can get in the way or take up space. Remember, the best people to assess the items in a space are the people who work in that space every day. 
Set in order: Once the extra clutter has been cleared out of the way, it’s easier for employees come up with their own strategies for sorting through the remaining items. During this phase, everyone should work to determine what arrangements are most logical. This typically requires thinking through tasks, the frequency of those tasks, and the paths people take through the space. At this point, it’s helpful to stop and think about the relationship between organization and large lean efforts. Consider what arrangements will cause the least amount of waste. 
Shine: Ultimately, cleanliness can be easily overlooked, yet it shouldn’t be. Regular cleaning and maintenance of equipment helps to keep it running smoothly. It also allows employees to catch problems in the equipment and systems before they have the chance to become a serious issue. 
Standardize:Without standardization, the previous efforts will amount to nothing more than a good spring cleaning. Standardizing work processes and tasks guarantees that every aspect of work stays efficient. There’s numerous techniques that can be implemented, whether it’s a checklist or scheduling, but it’s typically best for teams to pick what works best for them. 
Sustain: Maintenance work is an absolute necessity for this process to continue working efficiently. While standardizing the process can make it easier to continue on, it’s only after one-term sustainability that the principles of 5S or lean management truly come into effect. 

What are the Benefits of Adopting the 5S System?

5S adoption is different for every shop, depending on the needs, processes and culture of the given workforce. However, regardless of how it's incorporated, businesses large and small can enjoy numerous benefits from adopting the 5S methodology:

  • Improved profitability: Companies can save labor hours, money and other resources
  • More efficient workforce: With standard procedures in place, employees can focus on what’s important
  • Better service: With a more organized, cleaner, streamlined workplace, employees can spend more time providing outstanding service
  • Safer workplace: Employees are at less risk and can feel safer in clean, organized workspaces

What are the Costs Associated with Implementing a 5S System?

Using the 5S methodology in a metal fabrication job shop can be done on any budget; however, it still requires resources to become an effective tool.

At the minimum, businesses need to take the time to train employees, clean and organize their facility and incorporate necessary equipment (i.e. labeling tools) to begin the transition. Here at CAMM Metals, we in corporate the 5S methodology to great success.

CAMM Metals | CT Lean Manufacturing

As a lean metal fabrication and manufacturing job shop, we utilize the tools and systems that for the framework of the lean philosophy to streamline our work processes. This ultimately leads to greater efficiency, decreased costs and faster production times. CAMM Metals use of lean creates value for our customers in several ways, including rapid prototype completion, allowing for quicker turnaround on future iterations.

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Topics: Lean Manufacturing, Lean, 5S

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