In the first step of 5S - Sort - we remove items from an area when we realize they are not used there frequently. This is usually done first as a one-time effort, but it should become an ongoing activity. Unneeded items are removed to make room for useful items and to keep production areas clear of clutter.
Where do these items end up? Quality professionals like to call it a Red Tag Area and label it with red markings. I call mine the Zone of Disarray, and it's a standard size pallet off the main production floor and near my desk. Here's a photo of the Zone today:
Here are some things that are in the zone right now:
-a brochure from a supplier that I wasn't sure I wanted to read
-some soap I made as an experiment that did not turn out how I wanted
-lab coats that were hanging on our coat rack; I realized no one had worn one in months
-a mesh bag with rags in it. These were consistently the last rags used when cleaning because they weren't absorbent, were too small to be useful, etc.
-a bocce ball set (?)
-I could go on, but it's starting to get embarrassing
So, what happens to items in the zone? Whenever I have a spare moment or motivation (afternoon slump is a good time), I pick up items and decide what to do with them. They might get donated to our local crafting reuse store The Waste Shed, thrown out, recycled, or offered to friends and family. The zone gets quickly filled back up again as we keep discovering items on the production floor that don't quite belong. I also have an hour scheduled each week to dedicate to this task, to keep the zone from getting totally out of control.
Having the zone keeps the rest of the production floor clean of clutter. Instead of agonizing over what exactly should happen to an item that doesn't belong, it gets put in this purgatory-like area and awaits a time when I'm able to make a decision about what should happen to it. Production continues smoothly and isn't slowed down by me needing to decide right then and there where something belongs.
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