Stores 5S makes inventory evident at a glance


You may never see this windowless area in the basement of Regina General, or even know it exists, but the work that takes place in the patient supply warehouse touches pretty much every patient, staff member and physician in Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region. It’s largely because of the work of “Stores,” as this area is known, that staff and physicians have Isogel to clean their hands, clean gauze to dress wounds, paper for printers and cardiac catheters for heart patients, among countless other items.

The main area consists of 16 aisles, some more than 100 feet (30.5 metres) long, packed tight with shelving holding hundreds of boxes. It’s a busy place where staff is occupied moving new supplies in and requested supplies out.

Understanding where stock is housed and how much is used is key to ensuring staff and their patients have the supplies they need when they need them. This isn’t a problem for Stores employees – many have worked there for decades and some, like distribution/Stores working supervisor Sonya Fink, have the inventory demand patterns and storage locations memorized.

However, sometimes Sonya is away, and so is her replacement. In fact, a new employee would likely struggle.

That’s why Sonya, colleague and fellow distribution/Stores working supervisor Cheryl Ranalli, and kaizen specialist Tanya Giroux held a 5S campaign at Stores from September 15-18. The thinking behind 5S – which stands for sort, simplify, sweep, standardize and self-discipline – is that there’s a place for everything and everything is in its place.

Group prepping - Stores 5S

Photo: (L-R) Travis Bell and Tanya Giroux from the Kaizen Promotion Office and Sonya Fink and Cheryl Ranalli from Stores prepare shelving labels. 

The team’s goal was to improve signage so that locating supplies becomes self-evident and determining what’s on the shelf and what needs to be ordered is understood at a glance.

The team tackled two shelving units – one 16 feet (five metres) in length, the other 113 feet (34 metres).

First, they removed the inventory and cleaned the shelves. Then, they created visual cues to prompt the order of new supplies by fixing red tape on shelving at the reorder point. They replaced old paper labels which were taped to supply shelves with new, larger magnetic labels that are easier to read and replace and contain more detailed ordering information. They also posted more signs and information keys so that the work of the area is more intuitive.

“This makes ordering a lot easier for those who don’t know the process.” (Sonya Fink, distribution/Stores working supervisor)

“I think it’s terrific,” said Leeann Missal, Store person system and support. “I’d like to see the whole thing done.”

Cheryl said she’s happy with the changes. “The signage stands out and is easy to understand. Now, it’s a matter of maintaining.”

Tanya said the team was so enthusiastic that they completed nearly twice as much work as they originally planned.

“They were open to great ideas and came up with a lot of great ideas of their own. They thought a lot about what it would be like to be the new person.” (Tanya Giroux, kaizen specialist)

Plans are in place for more 5S work in Stores later this fall.

Photo at top: Cheryl Ranalli (left) and Sonya Fink explain the new signage on Aisle 7. 


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