Klimmek Furniture Office

Implementing 5S : The First Steps towards Improving Workplace Efficiency

5S is a simple, practical and effective way to eliminate unnecessary waste in your organisation.  In other words, it is a systematic form of visual management.  It uses everything from floor tape to operations manuals.  It stands for Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardise and Sustain.

Certainly, 5S should be implemented in two stages.  Firstly, eliminate waste.  Second of all, create a system where there is a place for everything and everything stays in its place.   However, 5S is not just about tidying up the workplace.  Moreover, it is also about maximising efficiency and profit.  In Lean, eliminating waste removes obstructions to flow of people, products, services, information or materials.  When all of these elements are working together properly, businesses succeed and thrive.

Klimmek Furniture Boardroom Table

Klimmek Furniture

In May 2019, Knut Klimmek took part in our Lean Business Tools programme in association with South Dublin Local Enterprise Office.

Knut started the Klimmek furniture business after studying design.  He graduated from the world renowned Parnham College in Dorset, England in 1986. Klimmek Furniture are a craft based workshop.  This means that their cabinetmakers are traditionally trained.  They also have the exceptional hand skills required to make finely detailed pieces of furniture.

In addition, the company uses modern technologies such as Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Machines (CAM).  This allows them to process materials to extremely fine tolerances, quickly and efficiently.

The blend of traditional and modern skills is empowering and allows us to tackle projects that would often be beyond us.

5S Control System

First of all, Knut and his team saw an opportunity to put a control system in place.  The aim was to identify potential daily labour issues.  This meant that corrections could be taken early in the process.  So, this would minimise impact to a specific project and the overall business.

Through the Lean Business Tools programme, Knut and his team set about implementing 5S within Klimmek Furniture.  In addition to 5S, they used visual management boards to provide key communication at a glance to all employees.

Klimmek Furniture analysing the Value Stream Map

Visual Management Boards

Most importantly, these boards provided essential information to all staff members.

  • They were consistent and easy to understand by everyone.   All team members work together to identify key elements of each project.
  • They facilitates a production meeting at the start of each job.  Now, it is possible to planning it out on the board, identify the stages and who is responsible for each element of the project.
  • The boards provide the team with all the information relevant to the start of each job.  They agree who is doing what, when and the time allocated.
  • Certainly, the visual management boards track the schedule daily.  This includes information on the budget, labour over or under runs as well as details of raw materials ordered.
  • Finally, they make house-keeping measurable.  Moreover, they provide an update on daily conditions for example, cleaning down machines, storing tools away when finished, tidying all workbenches.

Although it is a work in progress, everything now has a set location. The company has a standardised job sheet.  The company has formatted the sheet to show the different hours allocated to various processes.  Now, this ensures that information required to update the project board is readily available when a project is issued for production.

They documented and updated standard work practices/processes with learning outcomes for specific projects. In addition, Knut and his team have put in place a control system so that staff take responsibility for their time and task management.  Finally, ownership by each individual of each task provides for a better project outcome.


Results to date have been impressive.  During the Lean Business Tools programme, Klimmek Furniture increased their capacity by 20% and they also achieved savings of €25,000 pa.

Thanks again to Steve Halpin and his team for your input which has been invaluable.  Your involvement in the mentoring sessions has also been key in getting the guys to buy into the process.  It has allowed me to step back and give the team the space to voice opinions and make suggestions more freely.

The implementation of the new control system, which allows us to track budget over-runs on a daily basis, has been a key factor in the process of getting the team to understand and be involved in the daily process to reduce budget over and under runs.  It’s an ongoing process to embed this new system and the project visual management board in the daily routine.  But we have come a long way.

I strongly feel that once all the changes are fully embedded and in place, we will be in a much better position to expand our staff again and scale the business into the future.  Knut Klimmek

You may be interested in applying Lean Thinking to improve workplace efficiency in your organisation.

Click here to contact the team at ETAC or enquire about our next Lean Business programme.

We hope you enjoyed reading about our client Klimmek Furniture and how they implemented 5S to improve their workplace efficiency.  You may also be interested in reading about our insights on our Lean Approach to Business Improvement and Reaping the Benefits of Value Stream Mapping.  All our blogs are available to read here.  Please connect with us on Linkedin and Twitter.