Improvements for Maintaining Cleanliness of Work clothes

Operation: “Seiketsu” maintenance operations for work clothes, gloves and aprons at the workshop of a plant.

Problem: The workers in the machinery workshop have always used work clothes and gloves covered with oil and dirt. When they are terribly dirty these are sent out for cleaning, about once a month, but gloves are usually used and then thrown out.

The dirt from the work clothes, gloves, and aprons ends up dirtying the jigs, metal moulds, and materials and becomes the source of minor defects.

This plant has recently introduced the 5S. They began with “Seiso” and repainted the aisles and floors. It has become obvious that the dirty clothes are a detriment to their efforts to maintain a clean condition. All the members of the QC circle decided that this was a problem which should be considered for improvement.

Grasping the Situation in which “Seiketsu” is difficult to maintain and minor defects do not disappear:

The workers decided to always wear neat, clean clothes and that every morning when operations began they would put on laundered gloves. Each worker took on the job of cleaning his own items. The laundry area place for washing hands and face, however, is small it takes time, and there are variances as to how often laundry gets done. So, all of the members of the QC circle decided to look at the problem from three points of view in order to create an improvement plan which would see that all workers always wore clean, neat work clothes and so that morning operations would begin with each one putting on laundered gloves.

Obvious problems:
The dirt which is generated by the four elements of production and the lack of “Seiso” equipment

This is explained as follows:

1. The amount of dirt which accumulates on work clothes and gloves depends on the workshop and the mechanical facilities
2. Taking a good look at the mechanical facilities, jigs, tools, materials, etc., the way in which dirt, trash, and dust are generated are different. The types of dirt are also different.
3. The amount of dirt on work clothes and gloves is different depending on the way, order and position in which each worker works.
4. There is no separate laundry room. The wash room is used as the laundry room. It becomes crowded at the sinks, and some workers can’t do their laundry work.
5. Some workers do their laundry during work time, some quit early to do laundry.

This is why the “Seiketsu” condition for work clothes and gloves is still at an imperfect stage, and “Zero defects” cannot be achieved. Next, all of the workers estimated the actual losses, direct and indirect which were being generated by this situation.

Occurring losses:
Drops in actual production rates of personnel and mechanical facilities, chronic defects and breakdowns increase in amount of work clothes purchased.

(a) Almost all workers quit work early in order to clean up and do their laundry, meaning that the actual production rate has dropped.
(b) Minor defects are still in existence and they are the basis of defects and breakdowns
(c) The longevity of work clothes and gloves has not increased noticeably

The workers realized that a “Seiketsu’ condition will always have elements which give birth to profit (if loss is not allowed to occur). In order to weed out the problem, they next listed the essential causes of the problem.

Harmful Factor:

A lack of consciousness concerning “Seiso” based on daily ‘Seiso”

(1) There is a lack of research on ways of working which would not generate dirt and which would improve efficiency.
(2) Measures which would get rid of the sources of dirt on machinery, jigs, tools and cutting tools have not been enacted.
(3) There is no washing machine and no designated place for laundry.
(4) There is hardly any space for hanging laundry. No drying facilities.

Setting the Five Pillars for “Seiketsu” Maintenance System for work clothes and gloves:

At a team meeting the information which each of the members had gathered was organized, resulting in the above problem points, losses, and factors. Here they painted a picture of how the situation ought to look, and set the themes and improvement directions. Next, they made an order of priority did systematic analysis of each, and made up an improvement implementation plan. They could finally overcome the harmful factors and their objective of clean clothes and gloves could be achieved.