Aviation maintenance is a time sensitive process, especially in aircraft on ground (AOG) situations. Aviation maintenance technicians want to complete work quickly, but make sure that the job is well done. But how can AMTs save time without compromising their work quality? The answer is 5S and shadow boards for aviation maintenance. 5S methodology can help streamline maintenance operations to get aircraft back to flying condition in a shorter amount of time.

Understanding 5S

In any repair or maintenance organization, one of the biggest competitive advantages is eliminating waste. What does this mean? Waste in this sense includes much more than wear items or replacement of damaged tools. Waste refers to all actions and resources that aren’t value-added or required. 5S organization and shadow boards for aviation maintenance can help MROs and FBOs decrease waste by reducing time spent on nonessential activities.

You may ask, “How does organizing decrease waste?” Proper tool organization has the greatest effect on wasted motion – which leads to wasted time. Wasted motion refers to actions taken by a technician or manager that does not directly contribute to job completion. What is the amount of wasted motion and wasted time that are used to locate tooling? It may not seem like this is a significant amount of time, but it adds up. Although times are highly variable due to facility differences in size, tooling procedures, and workforce, many MROs and FBOs find that searching for tools can extend aviation maintenance work by over 45 minutes.

Shadow Board Effects on Time Reduction

Unsure how much time searching for tools actually takes? Set aside time to observe AMTs performing maintenance processes. Note how often progress was stalled to get the right tool. Shadow boards for aviation maintenance address this problem by providing a designated space for tooling. AMTs or managers don’t have to search for the right tool because it can be found in the same location.

The best way to organize tools is using a system that is simple and sustainable. Shadow boards are one of the best ways to accomplish this because they are visual and free of guesswork. Shadow boards are also incredibly convenient because they can be placed on tool crib walls, in high trafficked areas on the hangar, or in each AMTs tool chest.

Sort, Set, Sustain

Shadow boards are clearly aligned with 3 of the 5 key principles of the 5S methodology.

Sort refers to removing clutter. Shadow boards only include space for necessary tools and equipment, nothing extra. This eliminates clutter because there is no space that is available to place additional items.

“A place for everything and everything in its place” is the motto for set. By “setting” a place for items, each item has a known physical location. Consistency is key. Designated tooling locations enable AMTs to spend less time searching for the tool they need, so that they can get back to the task at hand.

Sustainability is the keystone of any change. The goal is to keep AMTs using the systems and processes that have been set in place. Shadow boards are one of the easiest methods to sustain. After creating the board or tool chest organizer, AMTs need to become comfortable with the new system. This can typically take up to 4 – 6 weeks.

Whether you have already implemented a 5S system or are just trying to get a more organized work space, shadow boards for aviation maintenance can help. If you have any questions about shadow boards for aviation maintenance, or would like a quote, contact e2b calibration.


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