Columnists Features

Kaizen and standardisation

IN THE last few weeks this column has looked at the meaning of Kaizen, which is a Japanese word that means continuous improvement.  We have dealt with three of the five Japanese words that constitute good housekeeping, these being Seiri (sort), Seiton (arrange) and Seiso (clean).  Today we look at Seiketsu, which is the fourth step of the 5S method. It means “standardised cleanup”. It derives from the one-time Seiso step which made the factory “shiny clean” and set the standard for cleanliness. Seiketsu makes it possible and feasible to live up to that standard.
Seiketsu enables and ensures compliance to the new standards of cleanliness.
Unlike the other terms, standardisation suggests a state of affairs.  It is what you get when you have concentrated on organisation, neatness and cleaning as a habit.
Asked how to maintain this state of cleanliness, some people will talk about personal hygiene.  Even when you put it in personal terms, it is clear that you need to set routines (standardisation) and constant effort to maintain a state of cleanliness.  Accordingly, you also need creative management and visual reminders to help everyone be constantly aware of the whys and hows of standardising cleanliness.
The right cleaning tools and detergents must be procured at the right time and in the right quantities.
Tools such as brooms and mops should be replaced when they are no longer useful.
If an organisation decides to use professional cleaners, it should be clear how often the professional cleaners come to do the cleaning.
The employee charged with the responsibility of keeping premises clean must from time to time check to see the need to clean again.
Standards should also be set regarding the emptying of dustbins and garbage removal.
Public places where people relieve themselves should be designated as such and cleaned periodically. Awareness campaigns should also be carried out on the need for people to use such places responsibly.
Standardisation also entails having a management team that is committed to and is unrelenting in Visual Management.  Visual appeals are among the most effective tools at your disposal.
Businessmen and women who sell food to the public should ensure that they provide clean running water for washing hands.
Standardisation is about maintaining cleanliness once the premises have been cleaned. How can we maintain cleanliness?
As an overview, four main questions will provide the answer:
1. What sources of dirt can be eliminated?
2. What cleaning should be performed daily?
3. What cleaning should be performed weekly?
4. What cleaning should be performed less frequently, and how do we ensure it happens.
Seiketsu should include standardising more than just the cleanup tasks. Both  Seiri (“sort”) and Seiton (“set in order”) need the same discipline.
What are the benefits of Seiketsu in the 5S process?  Oskar Olofsson, author of the book “Succeeding with 5S”,  shares the following benefits of Seiketsu;
? By maintaining cleanliness you will avoid periodic large-scale cleanup projects.  This reinforces the good first impression of cleanliness and tidiness, because the less-used or less-visited areas are also well-maintained;
? Support the Seiri and Seiton initiatives: regular cleaning ensures that only useful objects are kept, and tools are stored in their proper places.
? Seiketsu helps maintain the morale boost from the one-time Seiso (shiny-clean) step: the effort was not wasted; management really is committed; and everyone continues to work toward this common goal
? Provides a daily visual inspection of equipment and facilities, so preventative maintenance can be performed at the earliest possible time
? Makes it easier to note that tools and materials are stored properly at the end of each shift
? Reinforces the culture of tidiness, so workers are less likely to leave a mess that they will just have to clean up later
? Inspections reinforce the knowledge that management is committed to keeping the workplace clean, tidy and organised.

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