Tools to Assist You
Benchmarking is just one tool to assist your company to become “excellent” or “world class”. These tools are considered “best practices”, that is proven ways to get the best results from having the right processes and technologies in place. Adopting best practices doesn’t mean attempting to copy and transfer other’s success to your journey. Your business, people and culture are unique and so your journey will be unique. It’s good to extract ideas from the experiences and challenges of others but how to apply them in your business will be unique.
5S is a method for organising a workplace, especially a shared workplace, like a shop floor or an office space, and keeping it organised. The key targets of 5S are workplace morale, safety and efficiency. By assigning everything a location, time is not wasted by looking for things and it is quickly obvious when something is missing from its designated location. The key concept here is to order items or activities in a manner to promote work flow. For example, tools should be kept at the point of use, workers should not have to repetitively bend to access materials, flow paths can be altered to improve efficiency. As you might expect, there are five phases to implementing this approach, all starting with ‘S’. They are:
Phase 1 - Sorting: Going through all the tools, materials, etc., in the plant and work area and keeping only essential items. Everything else is stored or discarded.
Phase 2 - Straighten or Set in Order: Focuses on efficiency. The intent is to arrange the tools, equipment and parts in a manner that promotes work flow. For example, tools and equipment should be kept where they will be used that is, straighten the flow path, and the process should be set in an order that maximizes efficiency. For every thing there should be a place and every thing should be in its place.
Phase 3 - Sweeping or Shining or Cleanliness: Systematic Cleaning to keep the workplace clean as well as neat. At the end of each shift, the work area is cleaned up and everything is restored to its place. This makes it easy to know what goes where and have confidence that everything is where it should be. The key point is that maintaining cleanliness should be part of the daily work - not an occasional activity initiated when things get too messy.
Phase 4 - Standardizing: Standardized work practices or operating in a consistent and standardized fashion. Everyone knows exactly what his or her responsibilities are to keep the above three S’s.
Phase 5 - Sustaining the discipline: Refers to maintaining and reviewing standards. Once the previous four S’s have been established, they become the new way to operate. Maintain the focus on this new way of operating, and do not allow a gradual decline back to the old ways of operating. However, when an issue arises such as a suggested improvement, a new way of working, a new tool or a new output requirement, then a review of the first four S’s is appropriate.
By reorganising your workspace through 5S, clutter is removed and maintenance and changeovers are done quickly and safely. This automatically increases efficiency and if sustained, brings world class practices to your company.
Technology can assist in greatly improving business process. Operational applications, such as financial, human resource, supply chain, enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management systems, can improve efficiency, scalability and standardisation of processes.
Other business management applications, such as decision support systems, analytics, dashboards, and performance management tools can help improve business strategy and decision making. Moriatis Fresh has improved its operational processes through the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology and associated systems.
Moriatis Fresh is an Australian company that supplies supermarkets, fruit markets and national restaurant chains. Moriatis identified the trend towards rising demands for fresher produce. By placing radio frequency identification tags on tomato trays, the company can track the origin, packing date, type, quality and size of the tons of tomatoes it ships every day. Because it knows the precise amount and quality of tomatoes in its supply chain at any point in time, the company can respond rapidly to retailer requests for a specific volume and grade of tomato. The company can tell its retail customers exactly when and where the produce was grown, packed and shipped, which is particularly important as the world works toward food traceability and safer food supply chains. Improved information also allows Moraitis to pay growers based on the actual quality and number of tomatoes received.1
1 IBM Global CEO Study 2006