The old petroleum refinery is located on the south side of San Antonio. This refinery was built in the 1950s and expanded by various owners over the years. When Calumet Specialty Products purchased the San Antonio refinery in 2013, many operational and organizational changes were desperately needed. At that time, several efforts to improve housekeeping at the refinery were made; however, short-term gains were quickly lost. Within months of any facility-wide cleaning and organizing campaign, the refinery reverted back to disarray.

A New Approach Was Needed

The author practiced and promoted 5S + Safety at previous employers specializing in biotechnology research & development and semi-conductor manufacturing. Those employers demanded high productivity and efficient workplaces. The author was directly involved implementing 5S programs where work areas and processes were analyzed, waste identified and removed and a new order established for improved efficiency.

"5S" is the name for the workplace organization method based on five Japanese and English words: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke. These five Japanese words and their English translations begin with the letter " S" .1 5S methodology describes how to organize a work space for efficiency by identifying and storing the items used, maintaining the area and items, and sustaining the new order. A workforce and management dialogue about standardization usually occurs which drives decision making about how work should be effectively and consistently performed (See Figure 1).

2016: 5S + Safety Launch

In January 2016, Calumet San Antonio Refinery fully launched a 5S + Safety program. All supervisors and managers were trained on the fundamentals of 5S + Safety at the January 2016 Refinery Leadership Team meeting. The author lead this training effort with a MS-PowerPoint presentation defining each 5S category: sort, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain. Several before and after pictures were shown at other facilities that implemented 5S methodology (See Figures 2 & 3).

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