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Sweep is the activity of bringing your area up to a standard and then using that standard -daily - to inspect and keep that area clean.

Figure 1 – The 5S Categories progress to SWEEP/SHINE

The third S of the 5S system is Sweep or Shine. Hopefully, from these words alone, you get the basic idea here. This is the upkeep part of the 5S system; some would say the standards audit. The Sweep (shine) is to determine if everything is meeting our standard and to check if we need to replenish or replace anything. To sweep is to maintain the same area you have spent your time thinking through and planning. Every trade knows that at the end of their shift, there is time allowed for cleanup. I would say most trades practice this at some level. Lean leaders know they are taking everything to a deeper level of understanding. They realize that excellence with 5S means that the basics are getting done each day. They know that once they lose control of the first three Ss, the job site is in jeopardy of sliding back to the old way. It is much better to spend the time and effort getting it back to standard than letting things slide.

When the day is over, it is time to put things away and set up for a productive day tomorrow. Besides a general cleaning, all materials, tools, equipment are put away in an organized and efficient manner as outlined in Sort and Straighten execution. Tools and equipment have charging stations with labels. Material scraps are cleaned up and thrown out. Most trades would say they do this every day before they learned anything about Lean or 5S. How is this Sweep/Shine different? Sort and Straighten are done right. When we have gone through Sort and Straighten, we are setting up standards and expectations for all things. Sweep/Shine means to clean up the area by sweeping, wiping down, and putting everything back to standard and noting anything that does not conform to the standards previously agreed upon during the Sort and Straighten stages of the 5S system. Tools may be broken, so new ones need to be ordered. Materials may be low, and therefore more need to be ordered.

It is important to put things back where they belong. We all know this. Everything has a place or should have a place; this is simple to understand. Just like the idea that anyone can clean up a mess, anyone can sweep, shine, and put things away. When a system is in place, we count on it for changing behaviors. We expect everything is clearly located. We expect efficiency by having everything labeled and, in this way, everyone knows visually where everything goes. This is much more than cleaning up a mess. It is bringing everything to standard each day.

What does a Lean leader do during this phase of the 5S system? The Lean leader is challenging the current standards, looking for ways to improve them. When a team puts together a 5S system, the system will have weak spots and room for improvement. The standards should be updated as the work progresses. As conditions change on the project site, so should the standards. We started the project in the summer; when fall comes around, the conditions of the site have changed dramatically and what was working in the summer will need some adjustments for the fall and winter work. As more trades join the project team, additional problems will present themselves. During the Sweep/Shine, trades may need to change up what they are doing to improve the 5S system.

Creating a flexible material handling plan - that adjusts through the life of the project - is time well spent by trades for their trade-specific materials. A project implementing Lean means that a global view of materials management has been discussed. On a grand scale, with all trades involved, a discussion took place to manage in the most efficient and effective way possible the handling of all materials for all trades throughout the life of the project. Every phase of the project may warrant improvements and adjustments. The things that will adjust are material stocking locations and access points along with material routes as it makes its way through the building. Thinking about this as a team produces the best plan overall.

As an example, when electrical workers start their work, they are working on temporary power and lighting throughout the building. The building is wide open, and people and material traffic are low. As the building progresses, more tradespeople and materials fill the project site. More congestion means less efficiency without a well-thought-out plan by the team. During the underground phase of a project, the electrical trade partner will need PVC conduits and associated pieces for assembly, along with equipment and tools to accomplish the work. The team should ask some basic questions, such as how much material, equipment, tools, and space will we need to store on the site? Can we deliver enough every Friday for one week’s worth of work -for next week’s installation plan? Using wheeled carts, where can we store it efficiently so that it is close to the work? In this example, these questions are simple to answer because we are talking about one trade and one type of material. Once the job progresses into the in-wall rough-in phase, this one trade now has hundreds of types of materials, more equipment, and more tools to plan for and manage.

5S is a challenge from a single trade partner’s perspective. What about from the project perspective of all the trade partners? The Lean question is, do we have a plan that is being worked out by thinking through Sort, Straighten, and Sweep? Can we break it down into weekly or biweekly amounts and deliveries? If each trade partner breaks down their deliveries into weekly delivery to support the weekly install plan, we can come together as a project team and work out how best to manage all the materials, equipment, and tools throughout the life of the project. Early planning and designing of a material handling plan using the 5S system is the way to go. This takes some thoughtfulness from the experienced field leaders on the team. It starts with the general superintendent and their experience has taught him or her about the best way to manage this throughout the life of the project.

Too often we just get started by loading up with materials, tools, and equipment so we can get going and be ready for any changing condition on the project site. This approach works at some level but is the primary cause of excessive handling of all these items. As a Lean trade partner or a Lean project team, we want to implement a Lean material handling plan for each phase of the project.

Once the Sweep/Shine is complete, everyone can go home and know that when they return in the morning, they will find everything they need to start their work. Sweep/Shine is the daily upkeep of our system standards and it’s where we figure out what needs replenishing or replacing.

Figure 2 – Falling below minimum levels allows replacement

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George Trachilis, P.Eng. lives in Canada and consults throughout the world. He started his career at Motor Coach Industries in 1994 where he received Lean coaching by the best consultants in ERP systems, Just-in-Time manufacturing, and Total Quality Management. Having lead change for over 10 years, he decided to start his own consulting firm in 2003. It grew to become one of Canada’s Fastest Growth Companies by 2006. George is a Shingo-research Award-winning Author and Coach. He co-author of Lean Construction Leaders: A Trade Partner’s Guide to Lean.

Perry is Lean Executive Director at Parsons Electric Company (PEC). Perry's interest in construction began with his family's tradition of construction in carpentry and masonry fields. Perry served honorably in the United States Air Force. Following the service, he spent many years earning degrees in the technologies industry until he joined Parsons and began his electrical construction career where he has served for the last twenty-plus years. Perry is a certified instructor for Lean Construction Institute (LCI), served (s) on the LCI education board, and is a certified instructor for Jeff Liker's Lean Leadership Institute (LLI).