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Construction area in Fire Test Laboratory
Construction area in Fire Test Laboratory

5S: Continuous Improvements in the BTC

From wikipedia: "5S is the name of a workplace organization methodology that uses a list of five Japanese words which, transliterated and translated into English, start with the letter S. This list is a mnemonic for a methodology that is often incorrectly characterized as "standardized cleanup", however it is much more than cleanup. 5S is a philosophy and a way of organizing and managing the workspace and work flow with the intent to improve efficiency by eliminating waste, improving flow and reducing process unevenness."(used under creative commons attribute share-alike license).

The five S's are:

Seiri: Sorting - going through all of the tools, materials and equipment within an area and discarding any unused items, keeping only what is needed for the job.

Seiton: Set in order - arrange tools, materials and equipment in an order that encourages work flow; tools will be stored near to where they are used in a manner that makes them easy to access, and difficult to put back in the incorrect storage space. This involves careful labelling and shadowboarding, and creation of bespoke toolboards.

Seisō: Shine - cleaning the area and keeping the area clean once the initial stages of 5S have been complete.

Seiketsu: Standardise - creating standard work processes and methods to maintain the previous stages of 5S

Shitsuke: Sustain - keeping the discipline  to maintain the efficiency of the area. This can involve regular audits and inspections, and constantly aiming to improve the overall work flow.

The benefits of this type of process are too many to list here, but some excellent examples are:

  • A better working environment, tools readily to hand and better use of space have enabled a greater test output.
  • Smaller risk of damage to tools and test equipment have decreased test delays and increased accuracy and reliability.
  • Increased cleanliness, safety equipment at the point of need and well marked access in the labs has increased safety for all lab users. 

Since 2007, the method of 5S has been used to great effect within the Building Test Centre as a means to improve testing efficiency, safety, and customer experience. Recent improvements have been carried out in our structures, reaction to fire, fire resistance and acoustics labs.