Original Date: 08/14/2000
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Five Pillars and Visual Controls Program
The Five Pillars and Visual Controls Program is a discipline used to organize and maintain the cleanliness of the workplace by using visual controls. The concept of the program flows down from the Team Leaders to the Team Members within each manufacturing cell. Team Members are instructed to follow the basic philosophy, but are given flexibility to best fit the concept to their own cells. Color coding is the only control that is held standard.
The Five Pillars and Visual Controls Program is a discipline used to organize and maintain the cleanliness of the workplace by using visual controls. Among the drivers that led to the adoption of this program at Howmedica Osteonics were product quality and process control; employee safety; limited floor space; customer impressions; and employee satisfaction.
The Five Pillars (also known as the five S’s) provide understanding and discipline:
Sort (organization) distinguishes between what is and is not needed. Straighten (orderliness) identifies a place for everything and puts everything in its place.
Sweep (cleanliness) focuses on cleaning and looks for ways to keep it clean.
Schedule (adherence) maintains guidelines and monitors adherence.
Sustain (self-discipline) advocates practice and repeatability until it becomes habitual.
The Visual Controls provide a powerful mechanism for executing the Five Pillars. Color tape is used to identify the boundaries of manufacturing cells and the locations of equipment, materials, and supplies. Labels are used to identify the contents of cabinets, containers, and folders. Tool sets are also organized within drawers and on workbenches by using shadow boxes, partitions, and compartments. Throughout the workplace, charts and graphics illustrate each cell’s work content and performance. The color codes used by Howmedica Osteonics include:
Red for hazardous material and waste. Yellow for aisles, personal protective equipment modified areas, and non-production areas.
Blue for supplies, tools, and indirect material.
Green for raw and work in process (WIP) material.
Green/White for shipping and receiving.
Red/White for trash, scrap, reject, and hold items.
The concept of the program flows down from the Operations Managers to the Team Members within each manufacturing cell. Team Members are instructed to follow the basic philosophy, but are given flexibility to best fit the concept to their own cells. Color coding is the only control that is held standard. Each cell employs slight differences in its application, but still follows the basic concept. In addition, Team Members are continually improving the program by developing innovative ideas and exchanging information with other cells. Sustainment is maintained by auditing the cells every 40 days and generating a scorecard to chart their progress. Although somewhat subjective, the scorecard helps highlight deficiencies and identify areas for improvement.
Key to the implementation and buy-in of the Five Pillars and Visual Controls Program is strong backing by top management. As demonstrated at Howmedica Osteonics, the program can be implemented in a very short time and reap immediate benefits.
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