5S Red Tag Strategy – Implementation at Your Facility

The 5S’s are a continuous improvement methodology started in Japan after World War 2 and mastered by Toyota. When transliterated from the original Japanese, the 5S’s stand for sorting, setting in order, shining, standardizing and sustaining the discipline. The Red Tag Strategy is implemented in the first phase, or sorting phase, of any 5S implementation. Its effects are seen immediately throughout any facility with little or no cost, helping to improve reduce inventory, clerical efficiency and increase productivity throughout.

One reason this strategy is so important is that workers tend to “personalize” or get attached to tools and equipment. They often have a hard time determining what is necessary for the production cycle of the product and what is not. There is a natural tendency to want to keep tools and other equipment around “just in case”.

Another reason is that some manufacturing facilities or plants have been around for a long time; some may be 100 years old or older. If there are several shifts working for many years, and many workers throughout that time, different people may hang on to different items. Accumulation can happen quickly, or slowly over a long time period of time, but it happens.

The Japanese word for “red” is “dirt”. To remove dirt from a factory helps for several reasons (some obvious) but in this sense, it’s for sorting and removal of unnecessary items. Red tags are easily noticed, like stop signs, and help employees realize just how much clutter can be accumulated and just how much space gets wasted over time.


Custom Signs & Labels – Do it Yourself

Sometimes it is very difficult to find exactly what you are searching for. You thumb through numerous catalogs, search the Web, even ask your colleagues if they know where to find what it is you seek. You’ve had some success in locating similar items, but none are exactly what you need. Maybe it’s time to take matters into your own hands and design it yourself!

Of course, if the item you seek is something large or technically complex – the Mars Orbiter for example – you might be out of luck. But, if what you are searching for is a simple product, a label, or decal, maybe a nameplate or customized sign, it’s easier than you think to design one yourself.

The first step is to have a good idea of what you need. For example, you need a specific sign for the parking lot of your business. You already have the requisite handicap parking signs. The parking lot’s entrance and exit are clearly marked. You even have a “Watch Your Step” sign near your building’s front door to prevent visitors from tripping as they enter.

The problem is the delivery trucks. Every time a delivery truck enters your lot it blocks the driveway, preventing customers from entering and exiting. What you need is a sign that says “Deliveries on Right Side of Building Only.” Unfortunately, you just can’t seem to find that exact sign…But, you can create your own.

When you just can’t find the sign, label, tag, nameplate or decal that addresses your specific requirements, it’s time to Design Your Own (DYO). An online DYO application allows you to create the specific item that you need. You can choose from a number of options, including various dimensions, materials, colors, letters, numbers, wording and more.

Best of all, some online configurators allow you to view your creation before you buy. This handy little feature gives the designer the freedom to create their very own item, view it in real time, make any necessary changes, and order it on the spot.

Do you need consecutively numbered valve tags in black or natural colors? No problem. Yellow pipe markers with specific directions or wording? Easy. Decals with your company’s name, address and phone number? Done. Rectangular brass nameplates with an adhesive backing or screw mounting holes? The possibilities are many and varied.

And, what about that sign that you’ve been searching for? If you have the idea, and you have a computer, that sign is really just a few clicks away.


5S and the Red Tag Strategy

The “Red Tag Strategy” is implemented in the first phase, or sorting phase, of any 5S implementation. Its effects are seen immediately throughout any facility with little or no cost, helping to reduce inventory, improve clerical efficiency and increase productivity throughout. Red tags are placed on all equipment and tools that are not deemed necessary for a product cycle, thereby eliminating clutter and unwanted or unnecessary items and tools. They are moved to a red tag area for further discussion, warehoused, or discarded. A red tag area may be a local, temporary place for storage of tools or items that may be needed “once in a while”, but eventually (and the sooner the better) they must find their place, “when in doubt, throw it out.”

The Japanese word for “red” is “dirt”, and to remove dirt from a factory helps for several reasons (some obvious). But in this sense, it’s for sorting and removal of unnecessary items. Red tags are conspicuous, like stop signs, and help employees realize just how much clutter can be accumulated, and just how much space gets wasted over time.

Like spring and fall cleaning, a good red tag strategy launches no less than twice a year, and the best implementation will be ongoing. The period lasts one to two months based on how many red tag projects have already been implemented. Red tags should be attached by workers outside of their normal divisions, so they have a fresh eye to an area, and no personal ties to those specific tools and equipment.

Target places in the factory for the “Red Tag Strategy” include inventory, machinery, equipment and space in general, such as floors and shelving. A criterion is established prior to implementation of the process, and then the red tag must be filled out properly for inventory purposes; or the item is simply thrown away. You can find red tags and other 5S and lean manufacturing signs, tags and Store-Boards™ at creativesafetysupply.com. For more information on the “Red Tag Strategy” read 5 Pillars of the Visual Workplace.

One reason the “Red Tag Strategy” is so important is that workers tend to “personalize” or get attached to tools and equipment. They often have a hard time determining what is necessary for the production cycle of the product and what is not. There is a natural tendency to want to keep tools and other equipment around “just in case”.

Another reason is that some manufacturing facilities or plants have been around for a long time; some may be 100 years old or older. If there are several shifts working for many years, and many different workers throughout that time, different people may hang on to different items. Accumulation can happen quickly, or slowly, over a long time period of time, but it happens.