Thinking Lean with T-Slot

No matter the industry, all work environments strive to be lean and follow Six Sigma. To be lean, an environment needs to reduce waste by streamlining the process. Six Sigma helps to reduce defects by effectively solving problems. Within Lean Six Sigma, there is 5S (sort, set, shine, standardize, and sustain) which seeks to eliminate the eight wastes, which are:

  •  Motion
  • Waiting
  • Unused Employee Talent
  • Inventory
  • Defects
  • Overproduction
  • Transportation
  • Non-Value-Added Processing

Organizing the workspace makes it safe, efficient, and effective. T-slotted aluminum solutions are a great way to achieve Lean Six Sigma goals for a work environment. Below, we will detail each of the 5 S’s and explain how t-slotted aluminum solutions can be used to establish and maintain a lean manufacturing environment.

Sorting

This is the first step in the 5S process. Sorting requires a workspace to be evaluated and determine what is needed in the workspace. Often items are red-tagged, removed, and set aside for later evaluation to see if they should be returned to the area.   

T-slotted perimeter is often used to section off a holding spot for this evaluation. During sorting, all hazardous items are discarded, and clutter is removed. This first step will allow the space to be taken down to its bare bones, leaving behind only necessary items and equipment. Because t-slot is easily configured and reconfigured, it can be utilized for another area after its use or left in the space to keep a tidy and clean perimeter.

Setting

To set, or as it is sometimes called, set in order, allows for all items that are returning to the workspace to have a particular spot, every place for its thing, and everything in its place. Items will be placed by frequency of use or be stored. For this step, there are several t-slotted lean solutions that can be utilized, such as:

  • Workstations
  • Utility Carts
  • Storage Cabinets
  • Workbenches

The set in order phase will help create an ergonomic, uncluttered, and organized workspace. It helps to reduce the risk of injury, stress levels, and process times.

Shining

Once the workspace has been sorted and set in order, it will need to be cleaned every day and kept that way for the 5S process to be successful. With t-slot lean solutions, cleaning and maintenance are achievable because aluminum is corrosion resistant and can be sanitized quickly and easily. If a piece of t-slot should become damaged, the solution can generally be disassembled, fixed, and reassembled.

Standardize 

To standardize means to put rules or a guide in place that will help to maintain the area that has been set, sorted, and shined. These standards will need to be posted where everyone can see them so that the workspace does not return to its former unsafe, cluttered state. To help with this, communication boards are set in place to showcase rules or procedures.  

Effective communication is critical in the workplace. Communication boards can be placed anywhere, either stationary or mobile. They can be made of dry erase, cork, wire, or blackboard. They can also be magnetic. Communication boards come in different styles such as:

  • Enclosed Bulletin
  • Free-standing white dry erase board
  • Combo board
  • Wall mount
  • Tri-fold
  • By-passing dry erase
  • 3-sided mobile

Sustain

The last phase in the 5S process is about sticking to the previous four steps. Typically, the first three steps should be practiced every day by keeping to the standards that have been set. Sustaining it is the most challenging step.

Without adhering to the process, the workplace environment will dissolve, which leads to various issues, including safety problems, high turnover, and slower process times. Utilizing t-slot in lean solutions like those mentioned above will help with sustainability. By providing the right solutions, employees will be more encouraged to follow and keep the environment’s standards. Implementation without the proper tools will lead to the failure of the process.     

Lean Thinking with T-Slot

Lean thinking is an essential part of any company’s operations. From the office to the assembly floor, optimizing processes will ultimately lead to increased productivity. With t-slotted aluminum, lean solutions can be aesthetically pleasing as well as functional. The longevity of solutions in an industrial setting is essential. In an industrial environment, they need to be capable of withstanding repetitive, daily use by many. 

T-slot aluminum extrusion is safe, durable, and strong. With the T channel, the aluminum profile has numerous mounting possibilities for barcode scanners, monitors, bins, keyboards, and more. Beyond lean solutions, t-slotted aluminum can be used in the assembly process for automation, conveyors, and guarding.

To learn more about t-slotted lean solutions and how they can help a company achieve its 5S process, check out our forum for ideas and answers.

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