Norfolk Southern deploying 5S methodology, advancing safety and efficiency

5S methodology has helped some of the world’s leading industrial companies improve safety, streamline assets, and increase productivity. The 5S approach, which translated from Japanese, stands for Sort, Set in Order, Standardize, Shine, Sustain. It is designed to help maintain a safe, clean, efficient, and orderly workplace. Now, Norfolk Southern is bringing those principles to facilities across our network.

“As leaders, we set the tone, tone influences culture, and culture drives outcomes, especially for our facilities,” said Paul Duncan, Chief Operating Officer. “We’re deploying the 5S methodology throughout our network and seeing the benefits. The goal is for our facilities to be even safer and more efficient, all while being good stewards of Norfolk Southern’s assets.”

Using the 5S methodology, the team at our Juniata Locomotive Shop in Altoona, Pennsylvania began to analyze and catalogue the 70-acre facility, which is one the largest locomotive repair facilities in the country. Through the new system, items must now either have an immediate use or be recycled or scrapped. Over a 3-month period of the team made a significant impact in multiple areas.

“We generated over $2.5 million in revenue by selling items for scrap, and even deployed an industrial magnet to collect smaller material from the ground,” said Jennifer Bailey, Director Mechanical Operations. “We have a process in place to remove scrap in the future and ensure we’re efficiently using all our assets. Our approach is relatively simple, effective, and generating results.”

In partnership with Local Safety and Service Committees, several of our facilities have implemented the 5S methodology. Various efforts have included removing discarded material, organizing assets, and scrapping old equipment. Teams are also improving facilities in ways large and small, like repairing fencing, replacing signs, and refreshing buildings, parking lots, and entrances.