What is a 5S System? Developed by the Japanese, the 5S System organizes a workplace based on the five “pillars”: Sort. Workers are encouraged to eliminate all unnecessary tools and only keep essential items. Set in order. Workers, equipment, parts, instructions and the work itself flow in an orderly, productive way that is free from waste. Shine. The workspace and equipment are clean and organized. At the end of each shift, workers ensure all work areas are restored to their original, organized state. Standardize. This pillar supports the previous three by instituting standard best practices and procedures at each step of the process. Sustain. Maintaining proper procedures is made a habit throughout the organization. Sort Set in Order Sustain Standardize Shine Consider the benefits of color-coding. With the signing of the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011, many food processors are taking proactive steps by instituting color-coding as part of their Good Manufacturing Practices. These practices follow guidelines of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) — a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material product, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product. Currently there are HACCP procedures developed for dairy, juice, seafood, and retail and food service. (1) But in examining the intent of the HACCP procedures, one can easily see how other types of processing facilities could also benefit from color-coding systems. Processors who work with chemicals, pharmaceuticals, trash, recycled materials, sanitation, other raw materials or are concerned with manufacturing hygiene could also consider how color-coding might benefit their facilities. How color-coding can be applied. First, color-coding can be implemented to provide “zone control” within a food processing or food service facility. Different colors can be assigned to each step in the process or by manufacturing lines, whatever makes sense. When colors are assigned to zones, confirming that a tool is misplaced is easy, and tracing it back to its point of origination is quick. This level of traceability can translate to the prevention of costly recalls. Second, color-coding may be useful in instances where zones aren’t necessarily required, such as dividing workspaces. For example, “Red” could mean “1st Shift” while “Blue” could indicate “2nd Shift.” In this situation, shift employees are taught to understand which colored tools are for their shift, so they’re less likely to use another shift’s tools. Using color-coding to designate workspaces in this way can be particularly helpful to companies that closely monitor tool and equipment costs. The result can be a reduced incidence or misuse of tools in unapproved areas, as well as fewer lost or misplaced items. Third, color-coding is often part of businesses that follow a 5S System, which integrates color “cues” throughout a work process or facility in order to reduce waste and optimize productivity. Color-coded tools intuitively complement and support the goals of a 5S workplace. The color-coding promotes a workplace culture where tools and supplies are placed where they are needed and well- maintained for longevity of use. Finally, color-coding can also be employed to distinguish cleaning versus sanitation in a processor’s maintenance routines. For instance, “Black” is a common color used to identify cleaning tools used on floors and around drains. Other colors can be selected to designate tools that are appropriate for sanitizing food contact surfaces, or to differentiate between tools that are specified for use with particular chemical agents. This practice can also help prevent the undesired occurrence of using a powerful cleaner on the wrong equipment.
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