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Flat Surfaces

Flat surfaces are bad for work areas.

  1. They collect dirt, dust, debris, etc.
  2. They don’t support processes.
  3. People use them for storage.

Work hard to eliminate flat surfaces in work areas.

Flat surfaces collect debris. They collect dust. They collect extra parts, extra tools, extra equipment, extra Work-In-Progress (WIP). If there are no flat surfaces, there are no flat surfaces to clean. And there is no place to put extra materials, WIP, etc.

Obviously, don’t eliminate flat surfaces that are needed for work, but just be very selective about what you keep. But when you actually look at how space is used for production, surprisingly little area is needed for most processes. For example, do you really need a workbench, or will a small fixture mounted on a shelving post suffice?

The same holds true in office settings. Look at most desks. On the majority, you will find two things. Piles of papers and dust in all the nooks and crannies. Limiting flat space reduces the chaos.

This creativity in reducing flat surfaces is part of a larger 5S strategy. Make sure everything has a place, but also get rid of the places with nothing assigned to them. If you have a future use for a work area, or it is impractical to remove it (i.e. the top of a paint storage cabinet or of a machine), block off the area. Cardboard works great to block empty shelves, or to build a pup-tent on top of a cabinet.


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