January 3, 2013

Converge Implements 5S to Optimize Quality and Efficiency

If you’ve read the Converge blog before or have ever been to our website, then you probably already know that quality is a big deal to us. In fact, it is one of the key tenets of who we are as an organization. We help electronics manufacturers and service providers solve shortage and excess inventory problems, AND we do it with a component quality assurance process that is second to none. Every order we buy or sell must come to a Converge facility for a thorough quality inspection and, if needed, advanced in-house testing services such as X-ray and decapsulation. So it is extremely important to us that our warehouses – where all receiving, inspection, testing, and shipping activities occur – operate as safely and efficiently as possible. 

That is why we are excited to tell you that Converge adopted the “5S” workplace organization method earlier this year. The 5S method, closely tied to Lean Six Sigma and popularized by the Japanese automotive industry, enables a company not only to optimize a workspace for efficiency but also to put a culture into place that sustains these improvements. The name stems from the fact that the five primary phases all start with “S”: sort, straighten, shine, standardize, sustain. Starting in June 2012, our warehouse teams began to seriously evaluate their work spaces and list opportunities for improvement in each of these areas. We asked ourselves questions like “Where should tools be stored in order to make sure they are in the right place at the right time?” and “How can we arrange the equipment in this workspace to reduce the number of steps needed to accomplish a task?” Did we feel we had strong processes in place before? Yes. But that didn’t mean there wasn’t room to make them even stronger. 

Six months later, we are proud of what we have accomplished so far. If you were to walk through our warehouses, you would see our 5S scorecards posted in each work area. Scoring of the identified action items is done on a weekly basis by our internal audit team. Each week, these auditors identify new opportunities for improvement, which are discussed and delegated at team meetings. We have found that even little tweaks and changes are translating into significant efficiency improvements in hours and throughput. In addition, the 5S method has created a culture in which our employees are always looking for ways to improve rather than slipping into complacency. With improved efficiency and a heightened culture of awareness, we feel more confident than ever that we can provide Converge customers with a counterfeit detection program that provides them not only with the parts they need but also with peace of mind. 

If you would like to see our 5S process in action, we would be happy to give you a tour of one of our facilities – and show you our testing and inspection process while we’re at it. Just drop us a line to start the conversation.

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