Sunday, October 9, 2022

The Five "S"s

No Lucinda, not Shoot, Scoot, Shoot some more, Skedaddle and Shut-up.

Sort: Determine the tools and materials that will be needed in your "workspace".

Set-in-order: Position tools and materials in places where they will fall-to-hand when needed.

Shine: Declutter. Eliminate noise. Make smooth.

Standardize: Schedule regular cleaning, maintenance, inventory.

Sustain: Document that regularly scheduled events are done and by whom.

Example One

One of my shirt-tail relatives rebuilds transmissions.

His wife runs ads in Craigslist in major markets across the country.

He only rebuilds ONE KIND of transmission. It happens to be a transmission that has gone into half-a-million SUVs a year for the past decade. He has a room with a 30" high counter-top that runs around three sides of the room. He has a wheeled dolly that fits on the lipped counter.

Each stop, or station, has just the tools he needs for that stage of the operation. He has multiple click-wrenches set to exactly the torque he needs. The reassembly stations have only those exact wave-washers, seals, o-rings, bearings and friction-packs that he needs at each station.

A core comes in. He does a gross visual inspection to make sure the case is not broken or has bullet or rock holes in it. A finished unit is shipped back within 24 hours.

It takes him about 6 hours from lifting a pressure-washed turner-in transmission off the pallet with the hoist to putting the finished unit back on the pallet and rachet-strapping it down. Not a single motion is wasted.

Example Two

Mrs ERJ and I are going through our wardrobe in preparation for winter.

Summer duds are being put away.

Jeans are being washed, inspected and inventoried. I can state with a high degree of certainty that I am set for the winter for jeans. I have 9 pairs of "every-day" jeans, 4 pairs of "dress-jeans" and 3 pairs of "insulated jeans". 

I also have a half-dozen pairs of long-leg, flannel/fleece PJ bottoms I inherited from my dad. They make fine long-undies beneath the jeans for additional warmth. The two pieces also dry faster after getting wet than the single-piece, insulated jeans do.

I have three winter work-coats, two M-52 parkas, two vests (one high-vis) and one "fall" coat.

I have two quilted, flannel shirts. Five 1/4 zip fleeces, two windbreakers and two "hoodies" for sleeping.

I have socks by the legion and knit caps in plenty. I am light on pairs of work-gloves and need to rethink my footwear, especially if I start working.

I need to off-load some of the cotton Tee shirts. I cannot function without pockets and many of the ones I inherited do not have them.

Now that we are empty-nesters, I see that we will be far more deliberate in what we buy vis-a-vis clothing.

Another advantage of being an empty-nester is that my in-season clothing is moving out of the basement. 

At one point we had 6 people (two adults, two teens and two grade-schoolers) in 1400 square-feet. Not Luzon-crazy crowding but snugger than what is the norm in North America where the median, single-family dwelling offers over 900 square-feet of finished space per resident and the median apartment offers over 400 square-feet per resident.

A normal winter morning starts out with our house at 62F and it bumps up to 67F at mid-morning. That results in many layers and a hat when I first get out of bed and the various bits-and-pieces coming off as it warms up. The process reverses in the evening.

Each bit-and-piece can now have a place to be parked and then retrieved.

Example Three

It is easy to gain new friends and take on new activities. It is much harder to put them aside.

It is easy to buy rams or bulls and add ewes or heifers or new vegetable varieties into the garden. It is much harder to cull a ewe or stop growing some variety of vegetable that has served you well in the past.

Alas, there comes a point when we must put down our passion for full-contact origami, the Christmas cards to our buddy Tom who moved to San Diego and became a Buddhist and rebuilding vintage go-carts.

Life moves on.


  1. The five S's are even better in Japanese! "seiri (整理), seiton (整頓), seisō (清掃), seiketsu (清潔), and shitsuke (躾). These have been translated as "sort", "set in order", "shine", "standardize", and "sustain"".

    Your last point is really the most telling. I have become rather selective about taking on new things at this point. I am honestly trying to limit myself to one - at most. If I just got rid of a few things from last year, that would be okay as well.

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  3. Man, some pollen in the air or something.
    .. on my way up to WestVA to clean out Dads house. Sigh....

    I too have eschewed old friends, and kept my handshake back from new ones. Ain't got time for that shit no more.

    Interesting statistic about the homes. We just built our 2000 sq. ft. 4 bedroom for the missus and me and our 3 kids.. thats 500 per head, kids each have a 10x12 bedroom to call their own. And I _thought_ we had a nice house? (/sarc)

  4. Many years of "5S" training and implementation behind me. Usually more talk than doing since the companies were often unwilling (too short sighted) to give up a few minutes of production time daily to follow through and actually do "5S".

    Work smarter, not harder. Too bad the management & bean counters couldn't/wouldn't see past the end of their noses and understand this.


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