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System Streamlines to Build Company Profits

Are you interested in one simple system to increase profits? 
The 5S system can improve your operational efficiency, and in the process generate more revenue. In this week's article, Jennifer Sinsabaugh of New Mexico MEP explains the method and tells you how to contact MEP (Manufacturing Extension Partnership) for other help that can make your business become more competitive. 

In today’s ultracompetitive environment, businesses need to get their product or service to customers faster than ever. Shorter delivery times aren’t just good for customer satisfaction; the longer it takes to get a product from the order desk to the customer, the longer the business waits to be paid. Meanwhile, the company has its own bills to pay, including loan interest and materials invoices. The briefer an order is in production, the better. Knowing this, savvy companies implement lean manufacturing techniques to periodically evaluate their product flow and processes – and adjust as necessary for maximum efficiency.

Keeping it Simple
Companies can sometimes cut production time and eliminate waste by carefully studying how products and paperwork flow through office and manufacturing processes. New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership, or New Mexico MEP, helps businesses refine this flow. The nonprofit organization conducts workshops around the state, one of which – on the 5S System – aims to help businesses improve workplace organization and standardization. The 5S System is just one tool New Mexico MEP uses when assisting businesses with company-wide transformation toward efficiency.

The 5S System is simple, but it isn’t necessarily simple to maintain. The five s’s in the plan’s name stand for sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain.

Deconstructing Production
When sorting, businesses evaluate every item in the workspace in terms of the value it adds. Items of questionable value to the department or area or production flow are red-tagged and placed in storage for dissemination or disposal.

Items that remain are set in order or placed where they make the most sense in production. Tools used in rapid succession – as on an assembly line – are grouped where they’re needed and in proper order. These spots can be temporarily identified using color-coding tools.

The third “s” is shine: A brisk cleaning, repair or full paint job of all items is done to ensure they’re ready when needed. Safety matters most when determining which items need repair.

Standardizing refers to determining the safest, easiest and most effective way of performing the job consistently. Standardizing is a work in progress and is constantly reevaluated. Walkways are painted to direct and confine workers to the area of each tool or workspace. The chosen spot for each tool should be outlined in paint so it’s easy to find and workers know where to return it after each use.

Sustainability is the final step. Here the business sets guidelines for maintaining the improved system. Guidelines should state how often tools are cleaned and evaluated and where checklists and instructions are posted. The team should set its work standards so they’re easy to meet.

Businesses that want help implementing the 5S system or otherwise improving their operational efficiency can contact New Mexico MEP at 505-262-0921 or visit www.newmexicomep.org. The organization serves businesses throughout the state by bringing together experts in government, the private sector and industry to offer resources that help companies become more competitive.

An archive of SBDC Business Reports can be found at http://www.grantcountybeat.com/archived-items

Western New Mexico University’s SBDC offers assistance to entrepreneurs who are starting a business or wanting to expand an existing business. These services are available at no cost. Call 538-6320 for an appointment with a business advisor, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The SBDC office is located on the second floor of the Besse-Forward Global Resource Center on 12th Street. More information may be found at www.nmsbdc.com/silvercity/index.html.

Visit the WNMU Small Business Development Center web site to see the 2012 Client of the Year, Bear Mountain Lodge. www.nmsbdc.com/silvercity/index.html

Contact the SBDC office for information about the following:

* December 22 – January 2 – WNMU closed for the holidays
* January 16 - You and the Affordable Care Act
* January 17 - Employers and the Affordable Care Act

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