5S and the toolbelt

By: Richard Steel

One of the things that I notice when on my travels is how people latch onto simple things to make their job easier and I see how innovative people can be in their daily work.

On a recent trip to Japan, I noticed 5S pretty much permeates most of their daily life, which for a country of 136 million inhabitants, probably is no surprise.

I also think it’s just one of the ways that they can ensure they deliver quality service in just about everything they do. For me it’s obvious they put a lot of thought into how they set themselves up well to do a good job and efficient job.

So during my Japan Kaizen Experience, I noticed three great examples of different applications of the humble tool belt.

The first example was at the Hearton Hotel in Osaka where I spotted the check-in staff with a very dapper tool belt which contained everything from a ball point pen to a stapler. The lady that checked me in, didn’t have to search for anything in the check-in process; it was noticeably efficient! They also impressed me with the fact they had a “duty” English speaking attendant, who could explain any details and assisted us greatly during our stay… a great example of Standardisation.

The second example was an electrician, who was setting up Christmas decorations in one of the parks in central Tokyo. As you can see from the picture, this was a tool belt to envy, and he had everything close to hand as he and a team of around 20 were setting up the lights.

My third example was at a hospital I visited, the nurses also had tool belts containing basic medical equipment and also a range of stationery, I couldn’t manage a snap of this, but it was another genuine example of how the Japanese take 5S to a whole new level.

My case in point is the power of the humble tool belt. We’ve all been to the hardware store and have been tempted to buy one, so we can resemble something between John Wayne and batman, so any job, no matter how large or small can be tackled from an array of tools that are always ready to hand. From past experience, this doesn’t always improve the overall result, but at least you feel like you dressed for the part!

5S leads to a national truck standard for LIC

By: Danie Vermeulen

Livestock Corporation (LIC) decided in 2010 to introduce Lean as part of their Continuous transformation. The first pilot site was Waikato Herd Test depot in Morrinsville.

The 17 Trucks operating out of the Morrinsville depot make up to 11,000 visits per year to almost 3000 farms to deliver and collect herd testing equipment and milk samples. The Morrinsville depot team undertook a truck 5S event that resulted in a local truck standard that in turn provided the basis for a national standard truck lay-out and set-up.

The field technicians who use the trucks every day helped to apply the approach to sort through everything that they carried in their trucks. They then determined the optimal lay-out and set-up and built timber partitioning to trial their new truck standard. They then developed visual standards and checklists that they’ve displayed on the inside of the truck doors and started to do regular truck audits on each other.


Ben Crawford, Regional Herd Test Manager for Waikato and Bay of Plenty does a spot audit on one of the trucks. (as seen in the photo). The team identified the following benefits:

  • Reduced waste of motion & waiting
  • Everything is in the same place – no matter which truck
  • Easier to find things
  • Best use of space
  • Cleaner and better work environment
  • Looks more professional
  • Take more pride in our workplace
  • Process experts own the process and standards – not management.

When it was time to replace a few of their trucks, the Waikato team ran another 5S event and updated the set-up and standard for the new trucks and then fitted out the trucks themselves. The final plans for the national standard are based on this improved design, and the rest of the country will benefit from it.

This pilot enabled the LIC Herd Testing team to develop, test and refine a vehicle standard that will now be used as the national standard for the new fleet of Herd Testing trucks. This is a good example of a process owner-driven 5S event that resulted in a local standard that could be tested and refined to ultimately become a national company-wide standard. Classic Plan-Do-Check-Act/Adjust. A great effort by the Morrinsville depot team – I’m sure it won’t be long before this new standard will be further improved so that the next fleet of new trucks will be enabled with even more efficient processes.








To receive news and notice of events

Enter your email to subscribe 

Follow Us

Kaizen Twitter PageKaizen Linked In PageKaizen Facebook PageKaizen Google+ profileKaizen Pinterest profile

Contact Us:



KAIZEN Institute New Zealand

Level 1, Fashion Pavilion, Botany Town Centre
Corner of Te Irirangi and Ti Rakau Drives
PO Box 64066,
Botany, Auckland, 2163
Tel +64 (0)9 274 0829

CEO - Danie Vermeulen

Mobile: 0274 366 664

email: dvermeulen@kaizen.com

Kaizen Clients

Add as many pictures to the cell bellow
 phlips kaizen clientEcolab Kaizen ClientPfizer Kaizen ClientBosh Kaizen ClientVolkswagen Kaizen ClientContinental Kaizen Client