5S methodology played a big role at Stocksigns, these are to Sort (Seiri), Set in Order (Seiton), Shine (Seiso), Standardize (Seiketsu), and Sustain (Shitsuke)  Here at Stocksigns our operational focus is on efficiency, accuracy and high-quality signage. This all plays a crucial role in providing the Exceptional Personal Service we’re proud of, so that’s why we flipped it all upside down!

Working with our consultant, Paul Henry, we overhauled our Operations department to create a leaner manufacturing process. A big part of this was implementing the 5S Methodology.

What is the 5S Methodology Process? 

The 5S Manufacturing methodology is a Japanese philosophy to help create a workplace best suited to visual control and lean production. As well as helping to develop a better quality of life and creating better mental and physical health.

What are the 5S Pillars?

It starts with Sort (Seiri) which means to organize where we separate tools, parts, and instructions for what is needed and eliminate what’s not wanted. At Stocksigns we had to get rid of a lot of stock that hadn’t been used in 10 years and was just simply laying around.

The second step is to set in order otherwise known as Seiton, which is to arrange neatly being able then to identify tools and parts for a much easier use. In shorter terms to organise what remains.

Step three is to shine  (Seiso) which means cleanliness or shine. This is to conduct clean-up in the work area.  At Stocksigns everyone in manufacturing got involved in painting, cleaning, re-organising, implementing new processes, throwing out processes, and product range refinement.

Then we look at standardising (Seiketsu) where the first 3 tasks are all maintained daily for the workplace’s perfect conditions and have regular cleaning and maintenance.

Finally, to Sustain(Shitsuke) when following the first 4S will help be sustainable. As Paul Henry said, it’s all about sustainability and making sure the process stays sustainable otherwise there is no point doing it in the first place.

The Stores are at Stocksigns, all cleared up.
A grey shelving unit, overfilled with signs by Stocksigns.

Stocksigns prides itself on exceptional personal service, so implementing 5S has helped for the first time to ensure we continue to deliver high-quality products.  Over the past 60 years, we have had many methodology techniques but we feel like 5S Methodology was the right fit for Stocksigns, not only has this helped us keep consistent levels of quality and lead times, which keeps the customer happy, it has also helped with overall happiness in the workplace as everything runs a lot smoother with less internal issues.

Some steps such as getting rid of the old stock may feel like they make the process longer, but they drastically help reduce mistakes. So the whole Stocksigns team needs to keep educating and reminding themselves as to why we do some of the things we do, so people aren’t tempted to try and take shortcuts.

Each department around the business had different benefits to this for example, In operations as started by Dave these were ‘Pure and simple, with a profit margin and happy customers’ whereas in Sales Josh said that their biggest benefit was “giving the team even more confidence whilst making the promise to our customers, that we get it “right first time”. It is a lot easier to sell something that you well and truly believe in. No one in the world is perfect, and we don’t claim to be, but we are pretty damn good at what we do.” As well as getting rid of so much stock that was being held, some for 10 years. We couldn’t afford to make many mistakes. So, we plan to get it right the first time, every time so that we can focus our resources on the next project/customer that is in need. 5S has helped streamline everything, keeping both employees and customers happy. – The project was well worth it.

Dave Cload Operations Manager
Josh our UK sales Manager
Our operations Manager, Dave played a key role in making the ship run smoothly, Dave’s role involved overseeing and facilitating the implementation of 5S and the operational changes required in all areas of production. This started with raw materials and goods coming in, right the way through to finished jobs leaving the building. The hardest part of 5S was implementing new paperwork and processes to ensure we could measure and gain knowledge from the output, with measured information. As well as  then make informed decisions on whether you are as efficient and effective. If you aren’t, then training/process change may be required. 
Our UK Sales Manager, Josh said “The hardest part was learning and understanding all the elements of operations involved. If I didn’t understand what happens after the sales process, then I wouldn’t be able to understand the true benefits of 5S. It has helped me become a better manager for the sales team as I now have a much broader knowledge of the wider company”. Josh’s main role involved focusing on streamlining and simplifying the process for our sales team to bridge the gap between operation and sales.

The 5S project has been followed by Stocksigns and has been able to keep that process sustainable. We invested in new machinery such as a brand new Zund Cutter and SwissQprint Impala, which helped develop areas of the factory to ensure a smoother workflow. The steps we have taken will set us up for the next decade at least, but that’s not to say we are finished improving and tweaking our processes. Stocksigns actively encourage suggestions or questions from everyone within the business, one person alone can’t oversee everything. It is a collective effort to keep the 5S sustainable within our workplace.