5S | Continuous Improvement Process

For the Operations team at Lincoln Industries in Lincoln, Nebraska, an unused blast room and a line that only ran a couple of hours a day looked like prime real estate. That is precisely how Operations Manager Dustin Young viewed the space. “With new bumper production beginning in the spring of 2021, it made sense to rethink how we could make use of this space,” said Young.

This space and projects moving multiple lines and creating efficiencies was the perfect pilot project for Lincoln Industries 5S Continuous Improvement initiative.

What is 5S?

5S is about sustained workplace organization and discipline. It is a continuous process and an on-going management tool involving everyone from the area. 5S is the foundation for all other improvement activities, from value stream mapping to line balancing to cellular layouts.

Lincoln Industries 5S program includes the following steps:

  • Sort – Set apart items eliminating unwanted items, and storing wanted/needed items
  • Set – Arrange required items so they are easy to find, use, and return.
  • Shine – Inspect with a thorough cleaning of equipment and area
  • Standardize – Maintain a clean space in a way to prevent it from getting dirty again.
  • Sustain – Generate people involvement to continually challenge and improve processes and practices.

Continuous Improvement Manager Chris Myers is excited to see the new program benefiting Lincoln Industries. “Implementing 5S allows for immediate improvements in safety, productivity, and quality,” he said. “In addition to allowing for a cleaner and safer work environment, it allows us to make changes to accommodate the business needs better.” 

Myers spent a lot of time on the front-end of launching the 5S program with teams focusing on different approaches to create sustainability within the program. “It’s one thing to tidy and area and repaint upon request, but our main objective was to implement a system that would create a mindset for our people to sustain,” said Myers. “As new people join Lincoln Industries, our approach is that 5S will become part of training and safety: a mindset.”

Several areas have implemented the 5S program, and the resounding feedback is there is more accessibility to tools, and people’s jobs are more effective, creating consistent productivity across the plant.

“It’s been impactful to see people desiring change and updates in their areas. It’s created a sense of pride that we’re proud to have at Lincoln Industries,” says Myers.