5S in Oil and Gas

After working in manufacturing and supply chain management for nearly 15 years, I entered the realm of Lean Six Sigma Continuous Improvement process management.  Living and experiencing first hand this methodology as a subset of my job, I encountered multi-million dollar projects that saved tremendous amount of money.  On one example, I was able to lead a 10 well drilling project that saved my then company over five million dollars.  It was destined to fail; had every imaginable obstacle in front of us.  At the time, I learned and practiced several management methods, namely: Management by Objectives, eMyth, and Theory of Constraints.  A close associate of mine who consulted for Nissan Motors sent me several books, one titled:  Toyota Production Services and another white binder book with a symbol that looked like an inclined six.  After burying myself in reading for about a month, I picked up the basic concepts of Six Sigma and Lean used the combination philosophies to create a plan that systematically tackle the impossible and win a big victory for the team.

On my first day on the job, I met with Ezequiel “JR” Rodriguez, one of the foremen who was responsible for the vacuum trucks.  These trucks run on pressure and were used to vacuum or “suck” material from storage tanks, vessels, free water knock outs and so forth.  Prior to my meeting with him, JR attended a class on Lean and 5S and had this great idea of rearranging the tool box that contained cam locks.  Cam locks were used to hook the various sized hoses to other valves, extensions and so forth. 

The following picture represented an example of one of these tool boxes.

As you can see the various tools were in disarray.

Now see below improvement:

What JR did was bolt steel stems in a slight angle onto the tool wall. As you can see tools were organized, easy to locate and stored in a way that prevented unnecessary wear and tear.

Lean Six Sigma methods were well received by both management and rank and file, especially by those that were hands on.  Small incentives were offered and recognitions announced at regular meetings.  Telltale signs came from the worker with a genuine interest in improvement.  As a Lean Six Sigma facilitator, I met with these people and saw in their eyes, appreciation.  Their self worth elevated as their words were heard, documented and acted upon.  Granted ideas range from the ridiculous to the impossible.  In this hat of ideas, simple and powerful suggestions were implemented (such as J.R.’s).

As I met with more employees, I encouraged ideas through casual conversation.  When I recognized the potential, no matter how slight, I logged it, thanked the employee and told him that I would personally send it through the process.  This small effort showed the employee that they were indeed more valuable than mere workers.

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