5S is not just for manufacturing. Here’s an example from motorsports…race trailer 5S. With a little organization, everything needed for a weekend of club racing can be squeezed into a small trailer.
As you might expect from its name, 5S is a five-step process with roots in lean thinking and the Toyota Production System. 5S is a pathway to a clean, uncluttered, organized workplace reducing waste and improving productivity:
1) Sort Get rid of what is not needed
2) Set In Order Organize by neatly arranging and labeling
3) Shine Clean
4) Standardize Schedule regular cleaning, organizing, and ordering
5) Sustain Make the first four steps a habit
My Lola T-540 Formula Ford filled up the floor of my old 12-1/2 x 6 trailer. Packed in around the car were an auxiliary battery, an air bottle, a fire extinguisher, a folding table, fuel jugs, tool boxes, chassis stands, and ramp extensions.
The trick to making such a small trailer work was to fully utilize the space above and below the car. Above you would find mounted tires, spare parts totes, noses, a nose frame, a quick jack, a battery charger, drain pans, funnels, lawn chairs, and a big duffel bag with shelter panels. Below were the poles for the shelter.
While a beautiful example of 5S, the many loading and unloading sequence constraints were getting old. So after 20+ years of faithful service, I retired my minimalist trailer for a new 16 x 7 aluminum V-nose from R&R Trailers …but not it’s race trailer 5S methods.
With a little more floor space, my new trailer is much more efficient to load and unload. As before, the space above the car is fully utilized. Spare parts tote capacity has been doubled. Nothing is located on the floor around the car, a huge plus. Loading and unloading sequence constraints are a thing of the past.
The shelter poles are now carried in a tray above the car, a welcome ergonomic improvement. Spare tires are again carried in a rack across the back of the trailer. The E-track also secures flat items like tables.
I built a small workbench and two shelves into the nose of trailer. The workbench is drilled for a vise and a small arbor press, a significant functional upgrade. A helmet shelf organizes my driving gear between sessions.
I ordered the trailer with a beavertail and designed a custom ramp door flap to eliminate the need for long, heavy ramp extensions. These short structural foam blocks from Race Ramps weigh only two pounds each! What a joy to just roll the car on and off the trailer.
Just as before, everything still has a place. Without the sequence constraints, I can load and unload in just over an hour. When something is needed at the track, I know exactly where it is.
The so what of race trailer 5S? Less is more but sometimes a little more goes a long way. My old trailer, while loved and admired, was just a little too small.
There are many parallels between motorsports and manufacturing. While there is much good to be said about a small factory footprint, just don’t get too carried away. People and materials need a little room to move around.
For more on race trailers, click HERE for my blog on trailer and tow vehicles.