Greg Epp

Building Better Manufacturers

why you keep your shop clean

“Company clean up!”

These words echoed across the company lines of B Company 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, known to us as 3VP. On hearing those three words, the entire battalion, all 600 of us, would be grabbing mop buckets, brooms and heading for the garbage cans. We would sweep, then mop everything. I mean, everything.  Within 15 minutes, 3VP was spotless and the image of the military being a clean and well-run organization was restored. It also meant we got to go home for the day.

It’s time to clean up that shop

Over the course of my career in manufacturing, I have witnessed the correlation between cleanliness and happiness in the workplace People simply seem to work better in a clean environment. The lack of clutter lets our eyes quickly identify the parts or tools we need. The very act of cleaning improves our attention to detail and familiarity with your space, all desirable qualities for your manufacturing team.

There are other positive effects as well. People take pride in things they have to clean; your car, your desk, your house, a CNC machine, and the company they work for. Not allowing people the time to clean is neglecting them the pride in their work.

“But we can’t clean because…”

I have heard it all. Do any of these sound familiar?

It cost too much to pay people to clean

It’s clean enough

No one wants to clean up

We are to busy to clean

We clean at the end of week only

I’m too lazy

… the list goes on.

It’s imperative that you as the leader implement a clean shop policy. And not one that is done only by certain people but is carried out by everyone. We all make messes and subsequently should pick up after ourselves. Even those of your staff who are highly skilled and highly paid should not be exempt from doing such work. The act of cleaning their own space will help maintain attention to detail, provide early warning signs for maintenance and repair, and provide a positive example to those they work with. Lead by example and make sure “Company clean up” is done every day.  

Written by Greg Epp

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