Case Study 5: Meat slicer yield, using 5S

Problem: The yield from a meat slicing department was lower that the target set by management, based on planned machine output and shift personnel capacity. In addition, the finished pack contained a higher than acceptable number of under weights and over weights, relative to the tolerance limits set.

Objective: Analyse the reasons for poor yield and work with the operator team to build a robust and sustainable high-yield set of slicer lines.

Process: The Lean Ireland consultant spent a couple of days consulting with the operators on their issues, observing the performance of the busiest slicing line, and taking measurements of performance in key areas. The consultant observed a number of environmental issues such as cramped space in the slicer area due to the presence of redundant equipment, variation in the temperature and size of the meat being sliced, poor access to essential tooling and an ergonomically unsound boxing area.

The consultant recommended a dynamic and autonomuos 5S programme for the area, to precede the implementation of overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) measurements.

The operator team were trained in 5S and undertook a dynamic and ruthless approach to the layout within the slicing department. All redundant equipment was removed, tooling areas were identified and maintained to a high standard, the chill temperature of the incoming meat was standardised, and the boxing area line was modified to allow easier access to both sides of the line.


(i) Yield on the line increased significantly.

(ii) Operator morale soared and commitment to change increased, as they became empowered to run their own area.

(iii) Key variables in the slicer set-up identified & standardised.

The operators were ready and accepting of the implementation of OEE measurement on the line.