Thursday, August 7, 2008

Implementing 6S Lean Principles To Reduce Administrative Costs in Your Printing Company

Ever take a good look around your office, especially after some hectic period of work? If it gets like most printing offices, it can look like a cyclone hit it. Copies of job tickets stacked on your desk. Proofs and samples on the floor around your desk. Interoffice memos and email printouts that you put off reading because you didn't have time to read them when they came in.

The focus for most of us is to get the work in-hand done. And that often means we neglect good organization. Unfortunately, this habit can become a significant hindrance to working efficiently and sometimes safely. Studies have shown that people can spend half their time at work looking for things!

One Lean approach to business improvements and an improved workplace is 6S. Most people may think of 6S as relating to manufacturing workplaces, but it is just as applicable to office settings. As with all Lean tools, 6S is about eliminating waste and maximizing value-added work.

6S is a process to create and maintain an organized, clean, safe, and efficient setting that enables the highest level of value-added performance. This means eliminating search, travel, transporting materials, inventory, and hazards. It achieves this by introducing organization and orderliness, eliminating unneeded materials, and establishing self-discipline.

6Ss and Their Meaning

1. Safety
- Always put Safety first
- Safety and quality go hand-in-hand.
- Safety improves as the other S’s are established

2. Sort
- What is needed right now and what is not
- Sort through and sort out
- Remove items from office areas that are not used
- When in doubt, move it out!

3. Set-In-Order
- A place for everything and everything in its place
- Designate a specific location for everything and label
- Use of signs and labels to identify "what is to be stored where“

4. Shine
- Physically and visually
- Getting the workplace clean and maintaining its appearance
- Keyboards, monitors, desktops, cabinets, floors

5. Standardize
- Standard how everyone does things
- Put systems in place to ensure that everyone does things the same way
- Visual techniques, color-coding, checklists, labeling

6. Sustain
- Continually reinforcing 6S
- Keeping everyone involved
- Ongoing audits of 6S activities

6S in the office can include organizing job files, folders, file cabinets, proofs, die lines, samples, an individual’s desk, sales brochures, and packing materials for proofs. 6S is not limited to physical items. The same principles can be applied to electronic items in your desktop computer or company file servers. Electronic files and folders can be organized and labeled for your emails, customer supplied job files, purchase orders, PDF proofs, folding carton designs or prototypes, or CAD die line files.

By implementing 6S in the office, printing organizations can eliminate wasted time and costs by making it easier to find things, improving workflow, and reducing employee frustration and stress. Not only will 6S help your organization internally, but it will also impress your customers.