Besides "clearing the decks," 5S efforts help ITD improve communication, working relationships

Transportation department staff are seeing benefits of working relationships with peers and team members as they participate in efforts to organize, de-clutter, and clean up work spaces.

5S, which started as a Leadership Summit project, is being embraced by maintenance sheds in southeast Idaho (District 5), as well as by staff at headquarters in Boise. 5S stands for Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. It is designed to organize spaces to allow work to be performed efficiently and safely.

Shane Brown, a transportation tech. with District 5, said four maintenance sheds in his area have sorted and organized work areas. A fifth shed in Malad will go through the 5S process this month.

"When we organize a shed and paint it, it helps with team rapport," Brown said. "There's a desire to be at work. It's a new atmosphere."

Brown also said efforts to clean up maintenance sheds has improved communication between staff.

"Everybody's been excited about 5S, and there have been a lot of questions asked," he said.

Seeing the benefits of 5S, other departments in District 5 are considering it. Brown said staff in Engineering, Bridge and Building, the Sign Shop and Vegetation have expressed an interest.

Staff in Boise also are seeing benefits from 5S. James Poorbaugh, an asset management engineer in Pavement Analysis, said 5S was used to organize a shop area in the Headquarters Annex. Poorbaugh said he thought the arrangement of the shop's work tables and tools was standing in the way of a cohesive environment.

"I said, 'We're not going to have that.' The team agreed. We looked 5S up online, and worked on our area over the winter months. It was empowering for them. They own their shop."

In addition to removing physical barriers between shop employees, Poorbaugh said the equipment that staff wasn't using was donated.

"There was all of this welding stuff we didn't need," he said. "We didn't know what to do with this stuff."

Poorbaugh contacted the welding instructor at the Dennis Technical Education Center, which is part of the Boise School District. He said the welding equipment, which can be used by students at the center and provide students with the additional opportunity to improve technical skills.

Poorbaugh also said a $2,000 piece of equipment that was not being used by the shop staff was given to the Bridge Section, which needed it for projects.

Published 06-22-18