What the Duck?! Episode 34 Transcript
MANAGING INVENTORY WITH THISSSSS METHOD: What is 5S? And Why is it Important in Manufacturing? with Nathan Wilding
Welcome to What the Duck?!, a podcast with real experts talking about direct spend challenges and experiences. And now, here’s your host, SourceDay’s very own manufacturing Maven, Sarah Scudder. Thank you for joining me for What the Duck?!, another supply chain podcast brought to you by SourceDay. I’m your host, Sarah Scudder, and this is the podcast for people working in the direct materials part of supply chain. I’m @SarahScudder on LinkedIn and @Sscudder on Twitter.
If you are new to the show, make sure to follow this podcast so you don’t miss any of our direct materials supply chain content. Today, I’m going to be joined by Nathan Wilding, and we’re going to discuss 5s and why it’s important in manufacturing. If you work for a manufacturer who’s struggling with inventory management, then this episode is for you.
Nathan started his career in retail and moved into supply chain. He has a passion for project management and process improvement. Welcome to the show, Nathan.
Thank you. I am back in Austin, and we had quite a torrential downpour today. My some of my team and I toured a local manufacturing facility, and we got quite drenched. So hopefully, we’ll we have a drought, but hopefully things will clear up a bit. Well, here in Utah, we’ve had a lot of snow this year, and we’re probably gonna have floods because of snow with that record amounts of snow. I feel like the weather is kind of crazy everywhere. Thank you.
So you started your management career in retail, and something that I find super interesting is that you actually were a general manager at Jamba Juice. So Jamba Juice is headquartered in the Bay area where I used to live, and I know several people who worked in supply chain and procurement there. So would love to learn or hear some of your learnings from that experience. Well, yeah, like I said, I started Jamba Juice, and I think probably my biggest learning there was my organizational skills. And this, if I remember right, it was one of the first Jamba Juices in Utah, and this location I was at was very small. In fact, my office was about the size of a coat closet, and the freezer, which is kind of the main piece of equipment there at a Jamba Juice with all your fruit, your ice creams, everything goes in there, was not much bigger than the office that was in. And so stacking all the product in there, keeping it organized so it was easy to get, and we could be productive in getting the smoothies out to people was a challenge. And so I think that’s probably the biggest thing that I learned there, and it throughout my life, I grew up on, you know, it continued to grow my organizational skills, but that’s kind of where I got my start. And I would say that’s the biggest thing I took from my Jamba Juice experience.
So you worked for Jamba Juice. Did you decide to leave?
Well, it was also kind of the main reason I was there. I was going to school at the time, and it was right next to my school, so it was just an easy transition. It was a decent job, and also, being in college and in the prime of my life, the next adrenaline rush was the big thing to me. I had a lot of flexibility, I skied a lot, but then I just got to the point where I felt I needed to move on. So I did some other jobs in between, but my next big career move, I should say, was as a manager of a Motorsports shop.
So, for somebody who’s not a Motorsports person, what is that? Is that a place where people go to buy motorcycles and motorcycle stuff?
Exactly. Motorsports is motorcycles, four-wheelers. We didn’t particularly do real well in new motorcycle equipment or motorcycle sales. It was more a little more the bread and butter, I would say, of this shop was rentals. So, it kind of got me a new challenge there of my organizational skills because it wasn’t necessarily new sales, so I had to learn to spend money wisely, to make my resources count, get new product in front of people, make the aesthetics of the shop very pleasing to people, and have enough equipment, not having too much, but having enough that when the opportunity arose that I could sell it, I had the product for sale.
I feel like when you and I were prepping for our interview, there was a common theme that came through to me which started at Jamba and carried through to the different retail positions that you had before you formally transitioned into supply chain. Where did your passion for process improvement come from?
Well, that’s- sorry if I get a little emotional here. I apologize. I would say that the passion for that came from a bad accident in my life. Kind of weird, but I was in a very bad- sorry, very bad car accident several years ago. But I always had a passion for process improvement. After this accident, I was in a lot of therapy. I was in a coma for about three, four weeks. So coming out of that, I had to learn how to talk again, how to walk, and how to read again. Just simple things that you take for granted, I had to learn those things all over again. So, I really got a passion to- if I’m going to get back to where I was, I was pretty active, I did a lot of different activities, and now I couldn’t do any of them.
So if I wanted to get back to where I was, I had to really push myself and get back my abilities. This is where my real passion for improvement came to me. I also went back to grad school after this accident and in that grad school, I learned about Lean Six Sigma. This really spoke to me because of the process I was in, and so I learned about that. This is where many methodologies came to me on how I could better maximize not only my own life but also where I worked in business, and every aspect of my life. Like we talked about earlier, I was already kind of into organization, but this gave me better skills on how to do it, how to maximize productivity, eliminate waste, and just many different things to maximize profitability in a company and in life. I use it not only in my life; my wife kind of gets upset sometimes at me because I’m always trying to maximize everything, and it’s kind of annoying to her sometimes, but she loves it even though she doesn’t tell me that. She really loves it. You’re what I call a miracle person who has a near-death experience and comes out of it, learns a ton from it, and helps other people as well. I love to hear your story. So you mentioned you learned about Lean Six Sigma. Can you explain what that is?
It’s actually a methodology on how to basically maximize productivity, how to eliminate waste, and how to do many different things to maximize profitability in a company and in life. There are two parts to it: ‘Lean,’ which came out of Japan and was started by Toyota, and ‘Six Sigma,’ which was started here in the U.S. by Motorola. These two methodologies have a lot in common, and so they combined them into one and now it’s called ‘Lean Six Sigma.’ I guess you probably could find just ‘Lean’ or just ‘Six Sigma’ somewhere, but everywhere I know of, in many big universities, they teach ‘Lean Six Sigma’ classes. I had never heard of this until I went to grad school and it really struck a chord because it was right down the path that I was on in my personal life, and I wanted to carry that over to my business career as well.
Is ‘Lean Six Sigma’ the same as 5S? 5S is a part of the ‘Lean’ process, and that is probably, without having perfect statistics on this, one of the biggest things that many organizations start with first because, by doing this, you can eliminate waste and maximize productivity and save many organizations just millions of dollars. So, the five S’s are sort, set, shine, standardize, and sustain. They all kind of have a piece, and by doing this, you can eliminate waste and maximize productivity. In many situations, 5S comes in handy in all sorts of situations.
So, what does each of these mean? I’ll just give you a quick rundown of what they are: Sort is taking in whatever situation it is, you take those items that you need and you get rid of the ones you don’t need, so you eliminate those. Next, you set, and what you’re doing is you’re taking those items that you need and you keep and you set them in order, you make them very accessible for use in the future. Then, you go to shine, and what shine is, is just keeping everything really clean and tidy and clutter-free. It requires you to continue, because a lot of places, things start to clutter up, they clutter up more and more every day until finally, ‘Okay, let’s clean this up.’ Well, this you keep things clean. It’s all set in order first of all, so then you keep it clean because messes happen every once in a while, but you keep it clean every day. And the last one is sustain, which is creating a commitment to follow. Everyone that is in the process creates that commitment and everyone follows it. So, sort, set, shine, standardize, and sustain. It sounds like the ‘S’s come back to minimizing waste and increasing productivity. Is that a fair summary?
So our audience is primarily people working in manufacturing, supply chain, procurement, or operations. Why should someone working for a manufacturer implement 5S? Well, to save time, the biggest thing I would say is to save time and to save money. It’s a very good method to decrease waste and optimize productivity, and to maintain order in your workplace. You go into many businesses and they’re just a disaster there, and in fact, I’ve been in a few where I’ve applied this 5S, and getting everybody on board was the one challenge I’ve had in my past. People get into a rhythm of how they work, and if you come in with a new idea, change is very difficult for most people. That was a challenge in a couple of places I applied this in, but the difference it made was just substantial. Times went down. Okay, I’ll tell you about real quick. After the Motorsport shop, my big career move was I went to a company called Grifols. Grifols takes plasma from a human patient and they use that for medical research. It’s a medical thing – the plasma out of blood. You know what I’m talking about there, yeah? So that was probably the biggest place I applied this 5S in a plasma place. If you’re familiar with anyone who’s ever been to a plasma donation location, the first thing when you go in is you get your vitals taken. Grifols wanted that to be about a five-and-a-half-minute process, and the location I was at was taking over seven minutes. So, I went in there and created a plan to 5S the whole situation up there at the front area of the vital area, and in that process, I found that 5S is something that you definitely want to have a plan to create a plan of where you want your end result to be. I created the plan, and then I had to get buy-in from the employees, which, as you said, change management is tough. I’ve found that to be the case, and I’ve heard in most places people don’t like change. In fact, at Grifols, most of the employees who did the vitals were compared to a lot of them, I was a newer employee. I was their assistant manager, and I never did vitals. I never took vitals, I never worked in that area, I just managed them. So they thought they all knew how to do it better than I did, and that was a very tough and that’s the last. I created the plan, and then I had to get one of them. I picked their leader, the lead vital employee, to come in, presented the plan to her, and I got her to buy in, but she was still skeptical. I did get her to buy into it and told her it was going to work out, and what the results would be. I can’t say she was totally on board, but she would go along with me and help me to motivate and inspire the others. So, we went along with it, and it was going to be a week-long process. We created the whole plan, put everything in order, and cleared out a lot of stuff.
They had a lot of clutter, a lot of waste, wasteful items up there that we just get rid of and clear out the area, make them a lot more preventable to the public. And all said and done, we, in their drawers, oftentimes they had just tons of their vital equipment. Tools in there that they, uh, they were a mess. They had to, sometimes it took them a few minutes to find certain things after they’d been through enough of them. And so we, we created a very systematic order of what was going to be in the drawer and where, and we made every single station the exact same. So, if an employee tended to work at the same one every day, but not always, sometimes they’ll switch from one booth to the other, and we made everyone on the same. So, if they ever did, it was no surprise that their items were in the exact same place in every single station. And so, after it all said and done, the employees loved it. Like I said, they were resistant at first, but they loved it. And right after we did it, probably, probably two weeks after we did it, we saw time come down to just over five minutes. So, it created a lot of time, are you meaning time for what, assembling up the end product? No, what would happen, a patient would come in, they would sit down and get their vitals, and it would take them, the patient, you know that it was is going to donate plasma, it would take them about, before this happened, about seven minutes to get their vitals and send them to the next, next station in the process. And so, after we 5S that front the vital area, we brought it down to just over five minutes. So, it, and that’s a substantial time saving in this process. I mean, that wasn’t just a, you know, it was substantial. In fact, the other, other, other, this at a place called Talecris was the name of the Grifols was the main location, but Talecris was this particular location that I was in. And so, the other ones that were in the state, this was out in North Carolina, and the other they’re in the state, they actually asked me if I could, if I would come down and talk to some others about the same process and help them because I was the only, I guess, Lean Six Sigma certified person within the whole entire region of the area. So, well, yeah, I mean, the quicker they can get through patients, the more revenue they can generate, the more sure people they can service on a daily basis, exactly.
So, if I’m listening to this and I’m a manufacturer, and I just heard that example, talk to me about where I would even start if I don’t have 5S implemented today, and it’s something that I do want to consider doing at my manufacturing plant. It seems very overwhelming. Okay, and I’ll also, I guess, kind of key on something else that you didn’t mention there, but 5S was originally for a manufacturing plant, where I’ve used it in a service industry, and it actually started in manufacturing. It’s become very big. In fact, another really big thing that has become useful in is in hospitals. I’m a hospital and medical facilities. I was reading an article one time, a study that was done, and they say that most industries are between 30 and 40 percent wasteful. And so, in hospitals, it was kind of a shock to me. They rank up in the 40th percentile of wastefulness in just all kinds of different things. And so, it’s become very big in a lot of hospitals, the whole lean Six Sigma and 5S and all these different methodologies for that. Now remind me, what’s your, oh, how to get started? Yeah. So, where I’m working for a manufacturing plant, I want to be less wasteful. I want to free up time and generate more revenue for my company, but I don’t even know where to start. Gotcha. Okay. So, it’s not that hard to do. 5S is pretty easy. Now, some industries have different challenges than others. In fact, part of an example for me, I was at Grifols when I was there. It wasn’t 5S in the vital station. I also going in there, they had several challenges that I was notified of or that I took notice of when I got there. And one of them was their supply room. And it’s not something I could do just, you know, start right away because they had to keep production going. I had to kind of do it after hours sometimes or in ways that it wasn’t going to interfere in production. And many manufacturing plants have that same challenge. So, you have to, here’s where the plan comes in place, creating a plan. Like, you take little steps here and there and just, yeah, I mean, start with sort. You sort out the things you need and you don’t need, and those things that you don’t need, just eliminate them or put them where, if it’s something you do have to use every, let’s say, month or two weeks or whatever it might be, put them in a place where they are not cluttering up the workspace. And then you just kind of follow that order, sort, set, shine, standardize, sustain, and little by little, just put your plan in place to where you can eventually get to a point like in the example I was telling you about at the vital station at Grifols. We put a week process in place to get it done because partly to get the tools I needed to and also to prevent it from interrupting the production. So, we did very good about this. It went very smoothly. A good plan always pays off. And the faster that you can get this 5S into play, the quicker you’re going to see your, like in my case, the times went down. The employees were happier because it was just so clutter-free. And they were not only more productive, I mean, that’s a good thing for employees also is that their esteem went up because now they’re meeting their goals, which Grifols was always like, “okay we want to have them, you know, five minutes here or just over five minutes,” and they were never getting that.
So someone’s always like, “You guys got to get faster.” They’re always telling them something that they have to do, and employees don’t like to hear that when they are hitting their goals. Then I also put some rewards in place. “Okay, we’re hitting goals now, so here’s some rewards for doing that,” and they–you know, everyone loves getting rewards for something they’re doing, right?
So to recap, start small, pick things that are maybe easier wins, put a timeline so it’s three days, it’s four days, it’s five days. Don’t have it drag on where it’s going to take months and months to implement because that’s going to impact day-to-day operations true once.
So, I say, “Yes, I want to do this 5S process. I implement, how do I know what success looks like? How do I set benchmarks and KPIs and data around showing the impact?”
Well, I think that comes in the plan. You have to have a goal you’re trying to reach. Then it’s a little more productive. Like at Grifols when I was there, our biggest goal was bringing our times down to five minutes. In whatever production facility or organization you’re in, you want to have the goals to when I finish this 5S process, I want times to come down, I want us to increase productivity. I don’t think you can set goals that are too high, out of reach. Make them measurable and make them attainable. Once you’ve reached that goal, then you can go for the next one. If you make them too far out, you’re only going to set yourself up for failure in my opinion.
Every industry is so different that it’s hard to say for everyone, but just a few little things that I would suggest is creating that plan and what the end result will obtain by following that plan. Then like I said, you can just, once you’ve hit that, then I’m pretty big on goals, both personally and in business life, and so I set a goal. I don’t set them too high. I set them where they’re a reach, where I’m not–you know, they’re not too easy to obtain, but they’re a little bit of a reach. Once they obtain that, then I set another goal, and then I set another goal. And it gets you when you obtain the goal, you get the win, which brings satisfaction. Yeah, you feel good, so you’re ready to go back and tackle it again versus getting deflated.
Exactly, and for teams, rewards are always good. You reach a goal, here’s the reward, set the next goal. They reach the ward, here’s the next, here’s the or say they reach the next goal, here’s the reward again. So that is very good for teams and for the morale of the of your business.
Until you pivoted into supply chain, you’re now a buyer at Juniper Systems. You’ve been there about seven months. Have you implemented 5S in your current role?
Not really, maybe at my desk now. I sit around and just order a lot, and so although if you saw my desk right now, you probably wouldn’t think I followed by this at all, but I think it, well, Juniper Systems is an amazing organization here, and they already do 5S out there on the floor. I’ve actually joined an organization that already had it in place, which is kind of rare, correct? Yeah, they’re real big on Six Sigma lean Six Sigma principles, but they had 5S. They do a few other things like FIFO, which is first in first out, so they rotate their inventory to move it. They have gone to steps. I don’t know if they went through a Lean, you know, had someone come into a Lean Six Sigma help them with that, but they people here that I’ve talked to, they do know what it is and they do know the concepts. I just haven’t seen there’s not like someone in a position that is their Lean Six Sigma leader or anything, but they have a lot of the process in place here, so…”
Well, thank you for doing why it’s important in manufacturing with me, Nathan. Where would you like to send people to find you?
Well, LinkedIn, I guess, would be the best place. That’s LinkedIn, I guess, slash Nathan Wilding. That’s really the only social kind of media I ever get on, so about the only place you can find me.
You can check out the show notes and find us by typing in What the Duck?! Another Supply Chain Podcast in Google. To have optimal search results, make sure to add ‘Another Supply Chain Podcast’ at the end of your search to ensure you don’t miss a single episode. Make sure to follow this podcast and subscribe to us on YouTube. I’m @SarahScudder on LinkedIn and @Sscudder on Twitter. This brings us to the end of another episode of What the Duck?! Another Supply Chain Podcast. I’m your host, Sarah Scudder, and we’ll be back next week.