What is Six Sigma and how can I implement it on the job site?
Six Sigma is a proven methodology created by Motorola in 1986. The data-driven approach provides organizational tools and processes to improve production, worker morale and quality control. It uses the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) problem solving method to enhance business operations and reduce waste. Within the Six Sigma methodology is a production process called lean manufacturing. This system addresses process flow and waste issues to enhance production and efficiency. The goal of the program is to identify problem areas and create solutions to those problems through processes that can be measured and optimized.
Sound overwhelming? Don’t worry let’s take a step-by step look at Six Sigma.
The 5 Phases of Six Sigma
Here are the 5 Phases of Six Sigma:
The first step here is to define the problem. Let’s talk about the problem of space in mobile applications. Here’s where it’s helpful to talk to your workers about the most common issues they face every day. Are they constantly misplacing tools? Do they have the supplies they need on board? Once you can put your finger on the problem, you can identify ways to improve.
This is when you have to decide what improvement looks like to your company. Take a look at the baseline performance that you’re currently working with. How long does it take for workers to complete a task with the current obstacles they’re facing? What are the labor hours and material costs associated with these tasks?
Use your existing data to discover the root causes of poor performance and waste. How do these roadblocks impact other performance factors?
Look for the solutions to these pain points that can eliminate production roadblocks and improve your processes.These solutions reduce the length and variability of the processes—saving time and money.
Establish plans and procedures that your company can follow to ensure improvements and gains are sustainable. Procedures are put into place so that employees know the steps they need to take to keep production running smoothly.
The Lean Approach
This is where the rubber meets the road. Very similar to Six Sigma, this system is designed to detect waste and create solutions to the problems that slow us down. Waste can lead to defects, waiting time, unnecessary actions, too much inventory, overproduction, extra processing or unutilized talents. The lean manufacturing approach takes a long, hard look at the workspace and removes all clutter to create an organized workplace. One way we achieve this is through the use of 5S.
What is 5S?
5S is a system that can be used to organize any work space—even fleet vehicles and box trucks. And, it’s broken down into simple and actionable techniques that you can use immediately. Want to learn how you can put the Lean Approach to work for your fleet vehicles?
Here’s what each of the 5 S’s stand for:
Sort: Let’s take a look at one of your fleet vehicles. Take a walk around it, open up the doors and really look inside. What do you see? Is there anything than can be removed?
Think to yourself: What is the purpose of the item? How often is it used? Is it necessary?
If some of the items that are taking up room are used infrequently, maybe it can be held in storage back at the facility. Or, maybe it just needs to be thrown away. If you aren’t sure about an item, just red tag it. Then, the item can be discussed in greater detail a bit later.
Store: Designate specific locations for tools and equipment. Think about how your team uses these tools and what the best way is to sort and store them.
To increase speed and efficiency here are some things to ask yourself:
- What items are used most frequently?
- Who uses these items?
- When are these items used?
- Can items be groups together?
- Where is the logical place to store these items?
Shine: Once you remove all the clutter, it’s time to clean. This may sound rudimentary, but it’s often overlooked. Once you remove the clutter and begin to organize your tools of the trade—you are likely discover areas that need attention. Maybe you find dirty areas that can use a thorough cleaning. Maybe you find machinery or equipment that needs maintenance or repair. By cleaning the area, you can spot problem areas that can be addressed before they become major pain points.
We tend to rely on maintenance workers or automotive detailers to handle these tasks, but the daily responsibility should fall on the workers. Taking ownership of their space tends to create more invested employees.
Standardize: Create procedures that everyone knows and understands. Once your space is decluttered, organized and cleaned you should be in a great spot moving forward. What you don’t want to do is start backsliding to the way things used to be. So, instead of viewing your efforts as a one-time spring cleaning, turn it into a habit by assigning tasks. Use checklists, provide instructions and communicate with your employees through standard operating procedures. Remember to perform regular audits and monitor how well the system is being maintained.
Visual cues such as tapes, labels and signs are great ways to remind workers and keep workspaces organized.
Sustain: Make it part of your company’s culture. This means everyone should be involved from upper management to your field technicians. Make sure to hold regular awareness meetings and trainings, especially for new hires. Have fun with it. Think about ways you can inspire your team through contests, games, prizes and awards.
The benefits of the 5S Methodology include:
- Reduced costs
- Better quality
- Increased productivity
- Improved worker satisfaction
- Safer work environment
7 Organizational Best Practices
Clean out trash:
Remember the first step in the 5S process—SORT? Here it is! You don’t want to do it. You probably think it’s a waste of time, but this is the foundation of better organization. If your biggest challenge is space, it’s time to clean house. You may be surprised to see what nonessential items are taking up your valuable space.
Keep your tools organized:
One of the most effective ways to STORE tools in a way that increases efficiency is to use shadow boards. Shadow boards are storage boards that organize tools with cutouts of the shape of the tool. This way there’s never any confusion as to where the tool belongs, especially if multiple people are required to share tools.
Use the right kind of storage:
If you’ve used the 5S system of lean manufacturing, you’re already ahead of the game. You’ve evaluated what you need to store on your work truck or fleet vehicle, now let’s organize it. There are a ton of shelving options out there from bins and shelves to lockers and cabinets. With a clean slate, you’ll be able to visualize what kind of storage options you have room for.
Identify nooks and crannies:
It’s time to get creative. You may have untapped areas of your vehicle that you could be using for storage. Think of all the areas that are unused: corners, seatbacks, between or under seats or gloveboxes.
Hint: These are the perfect spots to store your SmooshKits™. Keep reading to learn more!
You can even attach docking stations to your center consoles to create workstations for paperwork or small tools.
Proper record keeping:
By organizing your equipment, tools and supplies you can easily keep track of what’s in your inventory or what needs to be restocked. Use labels with product information that will make re-ordering simple. HalenHardy® believes in problem solving and has created easy ordering methods that will keep you outfitted with the products you need, when you need it.
This is when you STANDARDIZE your organization techniques. Use labels, signs or visual cues as daily reminders for yourself and workers to maintain organization. If there’s confusion as to what the standard operating procedure is, you can almost guarantee it won’t be followed. Provide clear and documented guidance.
Once you go through all of these steps and look back to appreciate your efforts, just remember there’s one more step. Organizing any workplace is never set-it-and-forget-it. Make sure there is ongoing communication and training so that all your hard work isn’t for nothing.
We know space and organization is a big problem on many jobsites. Isn’t it great to know there’s practical solutions you can use immediately? At HalenHardy®, we’re committed to finding solutions to your biggest problems. Let us know if you implement any of these strategies and how they worked out for!
We created this handy checklist you can use on your fleets vehicles or work truck to make sure your team is organized and ready to work.