A heavy engineering company is aiming for a ten per cent improvement in manufacturing efficiency after introducing the Japanese 5s programme throughout its workshops.

The 5s housekeeping programme has been adopted by Sheffield-based DavyMarkham and involves five protocols: Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardise and Sustain.

The process is being implemented throughout DavyMarkham’s production departments and workshop providing higher levels of efficiency and creating greater capacity to take on key projects.

DavyMarkham’s new apprentices were also introduced to the 5s programme during their induction.

Peter Cross, continuous improvement manager at DavyMarkham, said: "The 5s programme has already been successful in the automotive industry and mass production environments and has now proved to be invaluable for efficiency improvements at DavyMarkham.

"It has helped speed up the work we do and minimise time wasted searching for tools and equipment. This helps the company complete projects to schedule and secure the future work load. It has also been a great way for us to review and maintain standards.

"Implementing this programme caused a significant change in culture for staff to begin with but it has been widely embraced throughout the company. Staff are more positive about the effect it has on their working environment, the benefits on health and safety and proficiency."

Peter is responsible for implementing the 5s programme for each workshop area or machine – a process which can take up to six weeks for the company’s largest and most complex machinery.

The 5s project has seen a complete revamp of the targeted factory areas at DavyMarkham with bespoke filing systems introduced for all tools, components and cleaning materials.

Supporting the 5s program, Dave Bacon, mechanical maintenance supervisor, has designed and made in-house a welding boom work station which allows all electrical cables, air grinder cables and air lines for breathing apparatus to be elevated off the fabrication shop floor, creating a much tidier and safer working environment. An ongoing program will see more welding stations being introduced throughout the fabrication shop.

Peter has also introduced a ‘Robocrib’ electronic dispenser which monitors and controls the materials staff use more efficiently.

The 5s programme begins with sorting through working areas using a red tagging system to identify all essential tools and equipment, creating the optimum working system which maximises efficiency on all projects.

Set in order requires an inventory where listed items are labelled and stored in a way that promotes a safe and efficient work flow.
The process is then standardised throughout the workshop areas with uniform store cupboards, desks and tool shadow boards. Staff are finally tasked with sustaining the new process by spending five minutes maintaining the new conditions through daily cleaning and tidying routines.

Each 5s area is subject to a monthly audit by Peter and the supervisors with relevant scores published on 5s activity notice boards.