Innovation is key to IG Masonry Support’s continued success, as is the ongoing development of its production processes. The company’s commitment to new technology was the driving force behind the recent evolution of its manufacturing plant in Swadlincote, Derbyshire. To streamline the performance of this facility, IG utilised the global 5S system to maximise the roll-out of its advanced masonry support solutions. Jemma Ison, IG Masonry Support’s Specification Executive, sheds light on this process.
Just over a year ago, IG Masonry Support carried out a refurbishment of its Swadlincote, Derbyshire manufacturing facility; a renovation designed to streamline production processes and improve the safety of staff. Beginning in July 2019 and finishing around late December, IG Masonry Support implemented the globally-recognised 5S system – a workplace methodology which optimises productivity and reduces waste – to make this change a reality.
A well-known system, it is suitable for areas where visual control, organisation and lean production are key and involves the following five stages: sorting, setting in order, shine, standardise and sustain. Naturally, it is a methodology which can make a huge difference to the operation of manufacturing environments.
Jemma Ison was brought onto the team as a graduate who was responsible for managing the project and seeing it move forward. Jemma has since progressed within the company to become IG Masonry Support’s Specification Executive.
“We decided to use the 5S system to help structure the renovation of our facility in Swadlincote, which would result in a site with greater productivity and efficiencies,” Jemma explains. “As a company that is passionate about the products we produce, this process was completely essential for us. The refurbishment was undertaken to improve processes across the board, ensure the continued safety of staff and reduce material waste. As a further note, we also wanted to ensure the IG Masonry Support brand identity filtered throughout our production department.”
Within its manufacturing facility, IG Masonry Support has introduced walkways to improve the flow of the space and adopted other measures to reduce the likelihood of double-handling, for instance. This will maximise efficiency in this area by providing clearer information on where products are supposed to be stored.
As well as making physical adjustments operationally, IG Masonry Support recognised that a sizeable culture change would also be needed. “It was essential for IG Masonry Support to get the very best out of the team and make the changes in the right place,” Jemma continues. “Our production workforce was at the heart of this large programme – they were the main reason why we decided to review our processes. We brought them onboard and listened to the ways they thought we could improve the operation of the facility. It was important to take their recommendations on board as they have both hands-on experience and detailed knowledge of our production processes.”
The implementation of 5S was a huge team effort, as noted by Jemma. “The workforce’s recommendations highlighted that it was important to have a decluttered and fresh-looking area for whoever was working in that space. We completed the first four stages in full, starting with the sorting stage. We analysed every area of the shop floor and really questioned whether certain elements or components were needed. The setting in order stage followed the sorting period, where we were able to look at the ways in which we keep the changes consistent for workers by introducing measures such as shadow boards. The shine stage was, as its name suggests, about keeping the area clean and tidy!
After implementing these first three stages this naturally set new, improved standards to be adhered to. Once our processes had been standardised and adopted by all, we then introduced appropriate measures in order to control the changes that had been made. This led us to the final stage: sustain. Maintaining our achievements takes continued dedication by all to uphold our new standards. To fully embrace the 5S culture we will never complete the fifth and final stage, we will continually operate in a safer, more efficient manner. The stage of sustain will now be forever in practice.
“It’s safe to say that the team has done a remarkable job over the past 12 months,” Jemma highlights. “This lean methodology was implemented to create a manufacturing environment which reflected the needs and personality of our IG Masonry Support production workforce. It was a smart, innovative move for us, which we really took into our own hands to make a success. As a company, we are proud of what we’ve achieved and definitely encourage fellow businesses to follow suit.”