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5S Games and Training Simulations

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I am a trainer and consultant in Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, quality management, and business management.

5S game "Nuts and Bolts"

5S game "Nuts and Bolts"

5S Games and 5S Training Simulations

Games and training simulations are by far the best way of educating your workforce on how to apply 5S in your workplace.

5S is a methodical way of organizing your workplace to reduce or eliminate the impact of the seven wastes and ensure standard ways of working are introduced. 5S is a necessary foundation block of any lean manufacturing implementation. 5S is one of the simplest lean manufacturing tools to use, and the benefits of 5S are significant; improvements in efficiency of 10% to 30% are typical.

Because 5S is performed by your whole workforce, all of your employees will require 5S training, and like any other training, it is easier to get the message over using a simple game or training simulation rather than a boring slideshow.

Below I have selected a number of 5S games and training simulations that are easy to use and will add value to any training event. All of these games I have either "played" or delivered as a trainer.

The Best 5S Training Games

Below I have selected what I believe to be the top 5S training games for you to use when training your employees or even to use as a consultant trainer.

I have used or seen all of the simulations in use, so I can vouch for their usefulness in training.

5S Nuts and Bolts Game

The 5S nuts and bolts exercise is a very simple to use and effective demonstration of the benefits of 5S. Its simplicity means that it is easy to relate to, and the included DVD means that you don't even have to worry about standing up to explain what has been achieved within the training exercise.

Anyone could use this simple 5S training simulation and get over the main learning points of 5S.

If you are familiar with the concepts of 5S, this lean training game would be very easy to adapt to fit your own specific products rather than the nuts and bolts used within the 5S simulation.

Even though 5S is not rocket science and seems to some as just common sense, we still fail to implement the ideas in real life. Because this 5S simulation uses parts that most people are very familiar with, it gives the participants something they can actually relate to. This allows them to better relate what they learn back to their own workplace.

"5S in a Bag" Training Game

The 5S in a Bag game is an inexpensive, easy-to-use training simulation that, again, anyone could use. Through the use of magnetic letters, you work your way through the steps of 5S and measure the improvements made at each step.

The simplicity of this 5S game makes it very easy to understand and use. The stopwatch quickly shows a ten-fold or more improvement in cycle time as you work your way through the 5S process.

I would recommend this 5S game for anyone starting out running 5S training, as its price can actually make it cheaper than any home-designed-and-built 5S training simulations.

There is a video below that demonstrates this training package in action. With 5S, it is often the simplest training packages that make the greatest impact on those using them.

5S Pegboard Game

Many people forget the aspects of standardized working when trying to train people in 5S, purely focusing on the workplace organizational aspects. It is the introduction of standardized work that makes 5S such a powerful and effective tool.

This game can highlight all of the aspects of 5S implementation as well as a focus on standardized working within the 5S game. Standardized working is almost certainly one of the most important aspects of 5S, so the added focus in this area makes it well worth the small investment.

Again, like the packages above, it is very simple and easy to use.

The game is played through several improvement iterations and is designed so that you can even get teams to compete against each other to add that extra bit of "fun" to the training. This "fun," however, has a serious side to it as it gets your teams to work together to beat both the performance of the other teams as well as bettering their own times from previous rounds.

A Book of 5S Lean Games

John Bicheno is by far my favourite author with regard to Lean Manufacturing. His books and games are simple to use and easy to understand. I have used several of the ideas within this book myself and would recommend it to anyone who wishes to become a lean consultant and conduct 5S training programs.

The games within the book cover many aspects of lean, including 5S.

The good thing about this book is that you can adapt the ideas and games that it describes to reflect your own company and products rather than an "out of the box" training simulation that maybe your people will not relate to.

This book also helps you to have some of those "light bulb" moments as you suddenly realize what the purpose of a specific step in 5S or other lean tools is really for.

These games are perfect for sparking discussion within any lean training event as well as breaking the ice and getting people involved. With games that take a few minutes to play, this book is great for breaking up any lean training event with relevant and enjoyable tasks.

Lean Games Book

5S Visual Enterprise Simulation

This is a more in-depth 5S training package than those above, with a full-blown 5S training package including a manual, DVD, and a simple-to-use simulation.

If you are looking for an all-encompassing training package for your 5S training needs, then this will likely meet your expectations. The book is useful and comprehensive (I have a copy), and I've also used the simulation.

This 5S training package and simulation will be invaluable if you don't have the time to put together a comprehensive package yourself.

Like all of the other games and simulations above, it is easy to follow and effective when used. Again there is no need to use it exactly as it is written you can adapt many of the materials to better reflect your own products and processes.

Use 5S games to make training fun.

Use 5S games to make training fun.

5S Simulation Training Package

"Automatic Recoil" by Visual Where is a professional-looking and easy-to-use package focusing on the visual management aspects of 5S. There are lots of good examples of how to use visual management as part of an overall business improvement process, as well as within 5S.

Many people fail to realize that after standardization, the most important benefit of 5S is that of making problems obvious through visual management. 5S forces us to take action at all levels of the organization. No matter if you are an operator on a machine or the president of the board, if you see something out of place, it is your responsibility to question why. This package looks at this aspect of 5S that the simpler simulations and training packages ignore or fail to cover well.

Create a 5S Game

Those of you who are more creative may wish to create your own version of one of the games from above. All of the 5S games take you through a process of improvement that is measured by the time taken to assemble simple models or arrange letters. Each stage of the game then uses the requirements of 5S to rearrange and improve.

This can be easily replicated using Lego bricks and tackle boxes (toolboxes). I used to carry a series of them that were arranged as per the principles of 5S. The first had all of the required parts to assemble a simple model, plus many additional parts all mixed in the bottom of the box with a poorly written set of instructions. The final box had only the required parts, clear photographic instructions, and all of the parts oriented and arranged in the order required. As you can imagine, it would take a few seconds to arrange the model from the final box and a few minutes from the first (if they got it right at all).

You can also download simple paper exercises that can then be used to demonstrate the steps of 5S, such as the 5S numbers or letters game.


Tony (author) from At the Gemba on October 09, 2011:

Thank you for reading outsidethelines, the topic choice of 5S games and training simulations is very much in line with all of my other hubs around lean manufacturing, just this time I wanted to try to promote some of the products available out there to buy.

OutsideTheLines from Tulsa, OK on October 09, 2011:

Looks very interesting. Good hub and topic choice!