Exothermic Organization and why it’s important

By Tim Rzeszutek

Sort, set in order, shine, standardize, sustain. Also known as “5S.”

These 5 principles are most commonly known for their implementation in the Toyota Production System (TPS). TPS is Toyota Motor Companies methodology of eliminating waste and continuously improving their manufacturing practices so they could provide the highest quality vehicles at the lowest cost. This approach has been adapted by almost everyone in one shape or another in the manufacturing world and is now commonly referred to as “Lean Manufacturing.” 5S is just one piece of TPS, or lean manufacturing.

As we continue to improve our tool tracking and tool organization for our field personnel, we want to try and implement 5S. Recently, we had some demand for exothermic welding equipment and as we searched through what we had at the shop, we grew quite frustrated. That’s when we decided we needed to assemble a kit with all the basics of what would be needed, get it in one case that was easy to deploy and easy to check when returned. Below is what we came up with. It is a Milwaukee pack out case with Kaizen foam and all the basic items that should go out for exothermic welding. The 5S breakdown in the paragraphs below is the thought process we had and items we need help on from everyone so as to keep these items organized.

Milwaukee Packout Case with Kaizen Foam for Exothermic Welding Includes:
(2) Cadweld PlusCU2L6 Impulse Electronic Welding Control Unit
(2) Control Cables for PlusCU2L6
(2) Clamps to help create tight mold seal
(1) Mold Cleaning Brush
(1) Container of Mold Sealer for filling gaps on worn blocks
(1) L160 Mold Handle Clamp
(1) BernzOmatic Propane Torch Head
(2) BernzOmatic Propane Torch Bottles

Sort is the first step in 5S. If you ever went in the crib looking for an exothermic block, you probably quickly grew frustrated digging through every last item to only find parts or pieces of what you needed or a complete set of a mold, but it was chipped or worn out so bad you knew you weren’t going to get a good weld. So, what did you do? You probably did exactly what I did — bought a new block and moved on. Today, we are sorting through everything that we have, eliminating the junk, and are going to be organizing the blocks in a custom cart that will have a legend similar to a box of chocolates that tells you what mold is in each slot. This cart is actually part of the second “S” in 5S.

Set in order is the process of organizing in a standardized way. This is our goal with the custom cart described in the paragraph above and the pack out case shown in the picture. Today, we will have two of these pack out kits ready to go.

The third step is to Shine. This is where we need everyone to pitch in. We can eliminate junk and get it organized but we need everyone to buy in and keep the items clean and organized the way they were received. If something breaks or goes missing, that’s fine too. It happens, but we need to get replacement parts ordered and keep the kits in good shape

Standardizing is the next step. Here we are looking to implement a checklist of questions that our warehouse/tool asset personnel should be asking when receiving a request for this kit. We also plan to make a checklist for steps they should go through to confirm the kit is ready to go out to the field and steps when receiving this kit back. Ideally, these lists will make sure field personnel are getting everything they need the first time and that our kit is ready to shine for the next time it is needed.

Finally sustain. This is again where we need everyone’s buy in. If we all hold each other accountable then this should eliminate us slipping back into old habits.

As always, we are looking for your feedback on this kit and anything else you see that could use similar improvement. Continuous improvement and increased efficiency are what we are striving for.