A lot of variables come into play when you’re designing or remodeling a warehouse, from using the space efficiently to managing climate control and ensuring employee safety. What about flooring, though? How can the floor of your facility play a role in operational efficiency? Let’s take a look at 5S standards and how you can use them to improve productivity and efficiency in your warehouses and factories.
Clearly Define Traffic Directions and Types
Much can be said about choosing specific colors for denoting different warehouse activities or storage locations. To start with, however, warehouses and manufacturers must take the time to plan and clearly mark traffic patterns throughout the facility. Managers should use this stage to:
- Designate when and under which conditions traffic is permitted in each area
- Provide clear instructions on traffic flow directions
- Make it clear at what points in the facility vehicle traffic must separate from pedestrian traffic
The floor in a warehouse or manufacturing plant is itself a safety asset when you use it to communicate effectively.
The principles of 5S include using specific colors while applying floor markings. It’s up to managers and facility managers, though, to map out efficient and safe traffic patterns first — before any paint or tape goes into place. After that, employers should conduct ongoing employee huddles and Gemba walks to make sure the traffic pattern markings receive updates due to events such as:
- Shifts in the nature of your work over time
- Rises in the number of employees in the building
- Changes in the ratio between vehicles and pedestrians
Choose the Right Flooring Surface
The first step in 5S flooring is to choose the right type of material. While you can implement these techniques in any existing warehouse or factory, upgrading the floor may provide a boost to both productivity and employee morale, both tenets of 5S.
Polished concrete flooring is designed to stand up to any foot or equipment traffic. It’s more affordable than traditional cement, both in the initial investment and in the fact that it requires very little maintenance to keep it looking its best. Here are a few actionable tips for getting the concrete flooring installed right the first time:
- Choose a day to pour the concrete that’s neither too hot nor too dry. Conditions like these will dry the material before it can spread and cure properly.
- Bring down your project’s environmental footprint by looking for flooring products with non-toxic sealant and densifier additives.
- Work with architects to compromise between the speed of the pour and the size of each separate floor panel. Using a greater number of pours may help reduce the likelihood of the floor cracking from shrinkage later on.
The productivity and efficiency of any warehousing or manufacturing operation rest on the quality and durability of the facility’s flooring. It’s worth taking seriously.
Standardize the Use of 5S Color Coding
One your floor is up to snuff, you can start looking at 5S color-coding. The goal of these floor markings is to make it easy for employees and visitors alike to identify workflows, safe areas and places that should be avoided, all at a glance. Ideally, you want to be able to locate workflows within 60 seconds of walking into a new area.
The exact colors you choose will vary depending on your needs and applications, but the recommended colors and definitions include:
- Yellow: Pedestrian ways/caution
- Red: Emergency exits and do-not-block areas
- Green: Safety-related equipment
- Orange: Machinery parts
- Blue: Work in progress or equipment under repair
- Black: Finished goods
- Yellow/Black: Extra caution
- Red/White: Safety equipment
The goal is to mark everything so there is no guesswork required. It’s the epitome of “a place for everything and everything in its place.” Everything is marked in its specific location, so it’s always where it is expected to be. If something is out of place, it’s easily noticed and corrected.
Feel free to customize these colors to your needs. Use green to mark places that are safe for pedestrians to walk and red to warn them away, or vice versa, using red to mark areas where equipment isn’t allowed. The exact details of your 5S flooring are entirely up to you.
Decide on Tape vs. Paint for 5S Flooring
You’ve got two options when it comes to marking your facility for 5S flooring — tape or paint. Each has its pros and cons, so make sure you understand these fully before making your choice.
You can place tape without the need for any downtime. If you choose tape designed for floor marking, you can clean the floor, lay down the tape and get right back to work. With paint, you’ve got a more permanent solution that will require paint remover or a sander to correct or remove. However, you’ve also got the problem of drying time, which could take your production floor offline for a day or two.
Choose the option that will work best for you. If you’re not going to redesign your 5S flooring anytime soon and can afford to take your facility offline while you wait for things to dry, the paint might be the best option. On the other hand, if you can’t stop working or may need to tweak your design in the future, stick with tape.
Make Your 5S Flooring Work for You
As e-commerce continues to grow and thrive in the coming years, efficiency and productivity will become the lifesblood of warehouses and manufacturing. 5S flooring is one tool you can adopt today to help improve productivity without making major changes to your facility or your processes. Take a look at your existing facilities and see how you could benefit from 5S flooring, whether you’re using paint, tape or a combination of the two. You might be surprised how much difference a few pieces of tape or a few strokes of paint will make.