HOTELS & HOSPITALITY FACILITIES GO WITH Tork manufacturer Essity recently teamed up with optimisation consultant Alan Kins

It has been more than 50 years since the industrial sector first adopted an effective methodology that was originally developed in the Far East.

The 5S principal emerged in post-war Japan when the leaders of Toyota Industries began looking at ways of reducing manufacturing waste and inefficiencies. The methodology uses five ‘S’ words as a mantra to aid lean manufacturing: Sorting, Setting in order, Shining, Standardising and Sustaining.

‘Sorting’ requires the removal of all but the most essential of items from the workplace while ‘Setting in order’ promotes arranging equipment in such a way as to ensure the most efficient workflow. The term ‘Shining’ refers to the need to keep the workplace clean and uncluttered, with all work practices then being ‘Standardised’ in order to make them consistent. And all these procedures must then be ‘Sustained’ on a day-to-day basis.

The Japanese 5S principle is now universally recognised as being a highly efficient way of running a production environment. At Essity, we believe that similar principles may be applied with the same level of success in the commercial kitchen.

“The methodology uses five

‘S’ words as a mantra to aid lean manufacturing: namely,

Sorting, Setting in order, Shining, Standardising and Sustaining.”

Hotel and restaurant kitchens tend to be hectic places where members of staff work together to deliver hot, nutritious and attractively-presented food. But in a chaotic environment, staff will waste precious time hunting around for equipment and bumping into each other as they do so. This can lead to spills, mess, disorder, confusion - and even lapses in hygiene.

We discovered this ourselves first hand when instigating an in-depth research project dealing with issues arising in commercial kitchens. We spent two years studying the kitchen environment in eating establishments in Germany, France and the UK. After talking to chefs, head chefs and purchasers we discovered that every country struggles with identical issues when it comes to ‘flow’.

The layout of a kitchen, the position of the equipment and the availability of cleaning and hygiene products are all crucial in order to achieve a good ‘kitchen flow’. Commercial kitchens need to be tidy and organised with a place for everything. This enables staff to move


effortlessly around the kitchen, carrying out their jobs efficiently. And this in turn will maximise profitability and keep stress levels down.

On the other side of the coin, we found that kitchens with a poor flow quickly became cluttered and disorganised. One particular concern of the chefs we interviewed was the fact that they were typically spending 20-30% of their time cleaning their hands and surfaces because the appropriate products were not always positioned in strategic or logical places. Staff were having to take more time and effort to wash and dry their hands and clean their surfaces than they should have had to do.

And this situation made it more likely for cleanliness and hygiene lapses to occur which meant that kitchen staff were not always adhering to basic health and safety requirements – which are, of course, fundamental to a restaurant’s survival.

To test this theory we teamed up with an industry expert to see how kitchen flow could impact on efficiency. We chose a Swedish restaurant to conduct our kitchen makeover experiment and enlisted the aid of kitchen optimisation consultant Alan Kinsella.

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