Five S's of trailer management

Five S's of trailer management

Sort, shine, straighten, standardize and sustain are keys to lean management.

November 22, 2017

Photo courtesy of Landscape Associates

You’re already taking the time to maintain your equipment to ensure that it performs optimally on the job, but how much care do you put into the way it gets there? Maintaining a clean and organized trailer can prove to be a major asset to landscaping crews.

For Gerry Andrews, president of Landscape Associates in De Pere, Wisconsin, applying a lean management approach to his trailer setups seven years ago served as an important step in making his company as efficient as possible. Lean management is based on five S’s: Sort, Shine, Straighten, Standardize and Sustain. You sort everything out, clean it all up, organize it and keep it that way, Andrews says.

"When we first started this, our toolboxes would be totally packed with tools, and you could never find anything. It turned out we had seven different types of shovels. After we went through the five S’s, we are down to two shovels,” he says. Once the different types of equipment were streamlined, the next step was to determine the best way to organize them.

“We’ve gone through and made an assessment of what should be on the trailers and where it should be located so we can easily find it. We’ve standardized that and have photographs posted of what should be where so that we can be consistent and all the trailers are set up to be exactly the same,” he says.

The uniform system enables employees to quickly find equipment, no matter which one of the six Landscape Associates trailers is used that day. Each truck is assigned a color, and all the tools on the truck are color coded accordingly. If crews double up on a job, it’s easier to ensure that the right equipment returns to the truck.