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The Inside and the Outside

(August 2011) posted on Thu Jul 28, 2011

Cleaning up the physical appearance of your work environment.

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By Marty McGhie

Equally important is that everyone knows just where that place is. Years ago, I noticed that our shop seemed to be looking rather trashy on a regular basis. One of the primary reasons was that we had a lot of scrap and waste lying around the shop, all over the floor. While our employees were doing an adequate job of cleaning up all the waste at the end of the day, during their shift the place looked terrible. Plus, waste laying everywhere can not only hinder workflow, it can also become a safety hazard. When I discussed this with our fabrication and print managers, they mentioned that the primary problem was that we didn’t have very good garbage cans and the crews would waste a lot of production time carrying trash over to the dumpster. So we talked about what type of garbage receptacles would be best and we ended up buying five large plastic garbage bins mounted on wheels. They actually hold a lot of material waste and are easily wheeled over to the dumpster to be emptied on a regular basis.

Improving the look of your shop will probably require you to do some extra work that you might not currently do. For example, your shop floor should probably be wet-mopped on a regular basis in addition to being swept once if not twice per day. Having the constant mandate to keep all areas free from clutter will keep the shop looking sharp and will also provide a much safer environment for your employees. You’ll send a positive message to your employees that you care about them working in a safe environment.

One last suggestion that has worked great at our company: Perform a thorough cleaning of the shop, “top to bottom” on a regular basis. We do this quarterly. Everyone in the shop participates and makes a huge effort to make their individual work area shine.

Nothing lost in translation
Maintaining the look of your shop will require a strong, consistent commitment from your management team. If your newfound enthusiasm for a clean, sparkling workplace is perceived as a “one-hit wonder,” your employees will see right through it and, within weeks, your shop will look just like it always has. So whether you decide to go crazy and implement a system like the 5S program, or adopt just some of these suggestions, the progress you make toward improving your shop will reap you some significant rewards. 

Marty McGhie is VP finance/operations of Ferrari Color, a digital-imaging center with Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Sacramento locations. The company offers high-quality large- and grand-format photo, inkjet, fabric, and UV printing.