FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- FMX Leonard Wood organization is one of the sites in the Fleet Management Expansion (FMX) Directorate, part of the Field Support Operations Directorate in the Integrated Logistics Support Center of the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command. FMX Leonard Wood is now improving its footprint using the 5S Lean Six Sigma program as a guide.

With field level maintenance operations in four primary locations and its headquarters in Warren, Mich., FMX provides maintenance support for all U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command training-based equipment in order to ensure that equipment is available to train Soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Fort Benning, Ga.; Fort Lee, Va.; and Fort Jackson, S.C.

The 5S process is a Lean tool created to give organizations a systematic approach to creating and maintaining an organized, clean and safe workplace. Unlike a management-driven program, employee buy-in and innovation are keys to the success of the 5S program. FMX Leonard Wood developed small committees made up of employees, leadership and safety officers to help their facilities become safer and more efficient.

The 5S steps are: Sort, Set in Order (also known as Simplify), Shine, Standardize, and Sustain.

The Sort step is designed to identify excess and minimally used equipment and tools, and to remove them from the workplace to avoid clutter and hazards.

The next piece is to set items in the right place for shop efficiency. During the Set in Order step, employees also identify items that will make their job more efficient and productive. Sometimes, items are relocated or more items are purchased to help employees avoid having to walk the length of the facility multiple times a day. Placing lines on the floor with paint or tape and identifying where the equipment belongs ensures it is returned to its proper place. This also allows FMX Leonard Wood to conduct inspections on equipment in a timely manner.

Once FMX Leonard Wood tested the process and determined they had the right equipment in the right place, it was time to Shine by setting and enforcing cleaning standards.

That led into the Standardize step, where leaders developed checklists to ensure the program is being followed and identify when changes need to be made. FMX Leonard Wood also standardized every safety board in the organization and instituted a monthly safety inspection checklist for leaders.

FMX Leonard Wood must Sustain the program by continuing to improve on a regular basis. They also conducted tours of different facilities to ensure they are spreading innovation and best practices throughout the organization. Finally, they Sustain by having management support during the entire process, to hear ideas or provide the necessary funds to continuously improve.

Many employees only see the lines on the floor and shuffling of equipment. Sometimes there is a stigma associated with the 5S process, that it's only being done to look good. But at FMX Leonard Wood, that was not the case.

These are some of the accomplishments made as a result of the 5S program:
• Chemical footprint reduced by over 30 product lines
• Twenty-five HAZMAT cabinets turned in
• Ten solvent tank parts washers turned in
• Over 150 excess shop items identified for turn-in (jack stands, floor jacks, tables, carts, bench grinders, spill kits, rag bins, etc.)
• Clear access/egress routes created in every shop
• The number of wheel dollies and drum dollies increased
• Standardized multiple programs and checklists throughout the organization
• Reduced lost-time injuries
• And saved money (over $20,000 returned to Army Inventory or DRMO)