In any industrial sector (manufacturing - project/construction - service), the SOCO approach is generally and very rightly considered to be the starting point of any lean initiative.
What I call SOCO is my simplified and westernalised version of the famous Japanese 5S.
SOCO stands for:
S for SELECTION: in any productive area (be it a factory or part of it, a construction site, a filing cabinet, an office, a workbench, a desk, a drawer of a desk, a store or a computer....) we must clearly distinguish between what is "needed" (and thus must be kept) and what is "un-needed" (and therefore must be discarded).
This applies to: materials, tools, jigs, dies, consumables.... computer files and even paper of any sort.
What is needed must be kept in an orderly fashion (see below) - what is not needed must simply be disposed of in a definitive way.
O for ORDERLINESS: having decided what is needed and must be kept (while all the un-needed has been discarded), now we have to keep it in an orderly way. "Orderly" simply means that whoever concerned with the use of that something will know:
- where to find it
- how to use it
- and when and how to put it back
C for CLEANLINESS: this means that every working area must be kept neat and tidy - which applies not only to floors and machinery, but also to: walls, ceilings, light fittings, cabinets, workbenches, storage areas, desks, etc.
Obviously, cleanliness is first of all a "state of mind". The "clean" mind will not only tolerate any untidiness in a working area, but will also creatively invent ways to prevent any dirt being produced and spread to begin with.
O for OBEDIENCE: we need to instil obedience and discipline in everybody's mind, so that rules will be adhered to - the 3 rules above to begin with, and any other simple (and non-bureaucratic) rule that we need to apply to any working area.
a manufacturing concern cannot be of high level unless there is a valid SOCO approach throughout
and a factory or any working area can start deteriorating in a matter of moments if the right SOCO approach is lost
a neat, clean, organised and disciplined working concern has high productivity, low defectiveness, and delivers on time
- WASTE IS VERY LOW:
unnecessary goods of any nature are eliminated - unnecessary storage and storage space/administration/management are eliminated - unnecessary searching is eliminated - non value-adding activities are minimised
- SAFETY STANDARDS ARE VERY HIGH:
orderly placement of materials, jigs and tools prevents hazards - in clean and tidy environments failures of any nature are discovered faster - in such an environment people are extremely safety conscious - safety equipment is found more easily and timely
- EQUIPMENT HAS VERY HIGH EFFECTIVENESS (OEE) :
cleanliness is the first step of a good autonomous maintenance system - visual control/inspection of equipment becomes much easier - obedience to procedures and rules is the best guarantee that machines will be kept in top class conditions and never abused or mis-used
- OUTPUT PRODUCTS SHOW HIGH QUALITY:
defects are discovered and prevented much more easily - errors and mistakes are less likely to occur - QC equipment is kept in tip top conditions - QA procedures are adhered to - people are much more conscious of their role i.r.o. quality matters, and feel more responsible
- CHANGE-OVERS ARE FAST:
proper orderliness of dies, jigs and tools is a prerequisite for QCO - in clean conditions efficiency during changeovers rises to high levels - in a neat environment it is much easier to analyse operations and bring improvements
- DELIVERIES ARE ON TIME:
drastic reduction/elimination of waste and defects is a prerequisite for faster deliveries - cleanliness and orderliness allow to focus better on value-adding activities, thus reducing lead-times
In SOCO enterprises morale is high, absenteeism is low, productivity is enhanced