ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- In the past three articles, I addressed the Sort, Straighten and Scrub steps of the 6S process.As a reminder, 6S applies to every part of our installation, including offices, shops, conference rooms, break rooms and even bathrooms.This article will focus on the Standardize step of 6S.In this phase, we must establish a routine for everything addressed in the previous articles.When standardization is in place, we develop a pattern of keeping the organization and cleanliness in the workspace.The Standardize phase puts measures in place to reduce chaos.Chaos lowers morale and lessens the ability to measure and predict performance. In chaotic situations, we spend more time looking for things and getting ready to work than actually working.We also generally have to work harder to make up for lost time and have to guess whether the work can be completed on time.Successful Standardization includes all employees in the creation of a set of standards, which will become the new norm for the work area.The idea is to instill the first three 6S steps in people’s habits and work routines, making everything repeatable.As you remember, we have already removed what is not needed (Sort), established a place for everything with everything in its place (Straighten) and thoroughly cleaned (Scrub).Our Standardize phase must establish the ground rules preventing us from going backward.Standardize plans must address actions to be taken when new items are received or too many of other items begin to collect.First and foremost, the need to keep the appropriate quantity of items must be determined. Remember, unless the items are needed, they need to go.During the Straighten process, we identified locations for needed items. These homes must be clearly identified. This can be accomplished in several different ways, to include tape, paint markings, labels, signs, shadow boards or diagrams.With visual controls in place, it is easy for everyone to know and understand where everything goes.These controls achieve Standardization without additional effort.To control the Scrub process, a cleaning plan must be developed, including all pieces of the process. This includes tools, equipment, storage areas, machines, work surfaces, floors, break rooms and offices.The plan must address the actions required, who is responsible for each action, when each action is performed and expected conditions.Each person working in the area must own a part of the plan. If not, those not included tend to not participate, leaving more for others to do.The plan needs to include cleaning rotations for common areas, such as break rooms and conference rooms, and the more unpleasant or difficult duties.Spreading the burden prevents resentment and helps everyone accept ownership of the work area. The plans should be posted in the work area to avoid confusion and conflict.Of course, cleaning responsibilities assigned to the cleaning contractor, the Opportunity Center, must not be assigned to depot employees.All Standardize controls must be visual and documented, so employees moving in and out of the work area understand and are able to comply.The bottom line is to avoid people partially or fully forgetting a step or engaging in old habits.While assistance from the Lean team is not required for 6S efforts, it is always available.Call Ext. 7952 to arrange for support.As always, I encourage everyone to actively provide ideas for improvement in your work area to your supervisor or a member of the Lean team and volunteer to serve on Lean events in your area.Remember, let’s work smarter, not harder!