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How to Organise Your Lab Space Using Inventory Management Software and Lean Sigma 5S

By eLabNext 4 min read 14 Dec 2023

I’m going to tell you a secret that will revolutionise the way you go about your day-to-day laboratory activities.

As you may have guessed by the title, improving organisation and increasing efficiency in the lab can be done by leveraging the Lean Sigma 5S program and robust inventory management software. 

Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “What the heck is 5S, and how does it relate to inventory management software?”

In the following blog, you’ll find all the answers you need! 

What is the 5S Program?

Working in a cluttered, disorganised lab setting can be frustrating. On top of making operations difficult, it can have far-reaching impacts on productivity and finances! I’ve learned that working in a disjointed environment produces low-quality work and wasted time, which has adverse emotional effects. 

The 5S program is a fundamental element of Lean Sigma, a methodology that seeks to eliminate waste and improve organisational efficiency. The 5S program involves five steps to help organisations create and maintain a clean, organised workplace. 

The five steps are:

  1. Sort: The first step is to sort through all the items in the workplace and determine which are necessary and which are not. Unnecessary items should be removed, freeing up space and reducing clutter.
  2. Set in Order: The second step is logically arranging the remaining items. This involves identifying the most efficient location for each item and labelling or marking storage spaces to make it easy for employees to find what they need.
  3. Shine: The third step is to clean the workplace thoroughly. This involves removing all dirt and grime and ensuring that equipment is maintained correctly and in good working condition.
  4. Standardise: The fourth step is establishing clear standards for how the workplace should be organised and maintained. This involves creating guidelines and checklists for employees to follow.
  5. Sustain: The fifth and final step is to make the 5S program an ongoing process integrated into the organisation’s culture. This involves training employees, monitoring progress, and continually improving the program.

Overall, the 5S program is a simple yet effective way to improve workplace efficiency and productivity by creating a clean and organised environment.

How Does Using 5S Improve Inventory Management?

The 5S program can be applied to inventory management in many lab settings to improve efficiency, reduce waste, and increase accuracy. Here are some ways to use the 5S program to improve inventory management:

  1. Sort: In inventory management, sorting identifies slow-moving or obsolete items and removes them from the inventory, freeing up valuable storage space and reducing inventory costs.
  2. Set in Order: The remaining inventory should be arranged logically once unnecessary items have been removed. This can involve grouping items by type, size, or frequency of use. Labelling or marking storage locations can also help employees quickly locate needed items.
  3. Shine: Regular cleaning and maintenance of the inventory storage area can prevent damage to items and reduce the risk of lost or misplaced inventory. Cleaning can also help identify items that are damaged or no longer needed.
  4. Standardise: Developing standard operating procedures (SOPs) for inventory management can help ensure that inventory is consistently stored, labelled, and tracked. SOPs can also help identify any issues or areas for improvement.
  5. Sustain: Regular training and monitoring can help ensure that the 5S program is consistently followed for inventory management. This can also provide opportunities for continuous improvement by identifying and addressing any issues that arise.

How to Leverage the 5S Program with an Inventory Management Software

Incorporating the 5S Lean Sigma program with inventory management software can help organisations further streamline their inventory management processes. Here are some ways to incorporate the 5S program with inventory management software:

  1. Sort: An inventory management software can help easily identify lesser-used inventory items. By analysing data such as sales history and inventory turnover rates, the software can generate reports to help determine which items should be removed from the inventory.
  2. Set in Order: Inventory management software allows customisable fields to be set up to track items by type, size, or frequency of use. It can also provide features for automatic labelling or marking of inventory items.
  3. Shine: An inventory management software can help with regular cleaning and maintenance of the inventory storage area. The software can generate reports to identify items that are damaged or no longer needed. It can also be used to track maintenance and cleaning schedules.
  4. Standardise: An inventory management software can establish SOPs for inventory management. These procedures can include guidelines for storing, labelling, and tracking inventory items. The software can also be used to enforce these procedures and ensure that they are being followed.
  5. Sustain: An inventory management software can provide regular training and monitoring to ensure the 5S program is consistently followed. The software can generate reports that track adherence to the 5S program and identify areas for improvement.

By incorporating the 5S program with inventory management software, your lab can streamline and automate many of the tasks involved in the 5S program, making it easier to maintain a clean, organised, and efficient inventory storage area.

Conclusion

Organisational techniques and tools like the 5S program and inventory management software are essential to maintaining a clean and efficient lab environment. The 5S program, with its five fundamental steps, offers a straightforward yet highly effective approach to cultivating a clean and organised workplace. These principles can be seamlessly applied to inventory management, reducing waste, enhancing accuracy, and saving your organisation valuable resources. 

I can tell you firsthand that these tools are life-changing and will make all the difference in operating your business. If you want to learn how eLabNext can transform your lab’s operations, contact us here!

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