The 5 M’s of Lean

5m's of LeanA great tool for management to maintain and improve the work flow is called the 5 M’s.

By always keeping an eye on the 5 M’s, the managers will be able to see when something is not working in a process and ensure efficiency and profitability. The 5M model can be used for risk management, troubleshooting safety issues, and in Lean manufacturing. It’s a framework commonly used in root cause analysis and originated within the Toyota Production system. The model includes the following components:

  1. Manpower – Managers must know their employees’ jobs intimately. They must know if they are completing their tasks in the right way and what the skill level of each employee is. Is the morale high, or is there a lot of absenteeism or indifference?
  2. Machines (Equipment, Technology) – Each manager must also have an excellent working knowledge of each machine and tool in his department. Additionally, the machines must have the ability to function with both precision and reliability. Managers must check to see if the machines or equipment are being regularly maintained and if they are in good working order. Are they producing high quality products? If not, is it the fault of the machine?
  3. Materials –The flow of materials is very important in Kaizen. The just-in-time model dictates how materials should flow in a process. Only those materials that are needed should be in the work zone. If there are more materials than are needed, they should be stored away in a separate location. Each workstation should have a minimum and maximum inventory level for each process.
  4. Methods – By having standardized methods, the manager will be able to see if the worker is doing his or her job correctly. Posted worksheets and diagrams that show the sequence and quality control for each process will help achieve proper adherence to the standard methods. It is critical for smooth workflow that work processes are consistent and controlled.
  5. Measurements – How do you know if a process is running smoothly? Productions, schedules, and targets should be displayed so everyone can see if improvement is being made. Gauges should be clearly marked to show the proper operating ranges of the equipment. Evaluating how the workplaces is operating can be done through inspections and audits. Integrating these tools into your company’s culture will ensure that kaizen creates long-lasting results in your productivity, team morale, safety, and ultimately, your profits.

Some have pushed for an expansion, evolving the 5M’s into the 8M’s to include: mission, management, and maintenance.


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