by Craig Corsi, Lead Consultant, Vie Associates, LLC

With Spring upon us, some of us may have already begun tackling those chores we have on our spring cleanup checklist. It’s an annual rite-of-passage this time of year to begin preparing our homes for the summer months. We’ll scramble between April and early May to accomplish everything so we can feel good about having our homes and yards cleaned and organized. The disconnect we share when it comes to maintaining cleanliness in our work environments (shop floor, office, warehouse), is that we think it should be done once a year or when a customer is scheduled to tour the facility.

I’ve had the opportunity to lead dozens of workplace organization events. A few of those projects were conducted where the company’s main objective was “to perform a thorough cleaning”. That’s all well and good, the team in the end accomplished their goal but workplace organization as a lean tool is much more than performing a “once-over” in the assembly department.

5S is a methodology or system of principles and rules for regulating a given discipline. It sits at the opposite end of the spectrum when comparing it to an annual cleanup event. 5S teaches you how to organize a work space for efficiency and effectiveness by identifying and storing the items used, maintaining the area, and sustaining the new order. Critical factors when considering a 5S event, include 1) involving the right people; 2) understanding that ‘sustaining’ is the most challenging ‘S’ and requires more planning; and 3) changing your thinking from an annual spring cleaning exercise to always searching for a better way to improve.

Craig Corsi has more than 20 years of manufacturing experience having worked for companies such as GE Transportation and Sanmina-SCI Corporation in various leadership roles. The last 9 years of his career he has provided Lean and continuous improvement training for companies throughout NW PA. Craig earned his Bachelor of Arts and Masters in Business Administration degrees from Gannon University.

Side Note: With Craig Corsi as the lead, NWIRC has several upcoming opportunities to increase your knowledge of Lean. A Lean Together™ working group is scheduled to begin on April 26th for manufacturers in Mercer and surrounding counties. This group meets monthly at rotating facilities and discusses concepts from 2 Second Lean by Paul A. Akers. Also, if you are interested in becoming a Lean Champion, this certification course will be offered in St Marys (May 2, 9, 16, 23) and Erie (June 7, 15, 22, 29). More information about these programs can be found at or call (814) 898-6888.