Friday, September 12, 2003

Keeping a Painting Plant Spotless

On Tuesday this week, I had a wonderful opportunity to tour Precoat Metal's Northgate Plant near St. Louis. Precoat is a vendor of a vendor of ours; they put paint on the steel that becomes the roof and sides of our suburban, Equine, and agricultural buildings.

John Gardner, the plant's operations manager, gave us the tour. He's a 20 year veteran of the business and exhibited a contagious enthusiasm for his job and his plant. I've seen a number of steel handling facilities and this plant was, hands down, the cleanest, best organized, visually appealing one I've seen. And, mind you, painting steel coils that zip along at over 600 feet per minute with multiple shifts running 24/7 is no small task. Keeping all the material in order and producing a quality product is a mind boggling job.

I complemented John on the organization of the plant. He shrugged and, not surprisingly, gave full credit to his people. He also pointed out it was a journey, not a one-shot deal. "We've been doing 5S for several years now. It sure helps." And it showed.

"But the 5th S, Sustaining, is always the hardest" I commented to him. He agreed fully. "And without everyone involved, you never sustain anything," he added, the voice of experience coming through.

John did get people involved, though, and it showed. I strongly suspect his personal example and involvement also was crucial.

I hope you can pursue 5S in your surroundings. Check out this article on sustaining a 5S effort from a recent SME newsletter.

I hope this is helpful. And that it doesn't clutter your desk. Feel free to forward to a friend. Email me

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