Sierra College helps businesses clean, organize

By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Placer Herald and Press Tribune editor
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Know more

To learn more about the Center for Applied Competitive Technologies 7S training, visit or contact Carol Pepper-Kittredge at 660-7801 or

. In partnership with the Continuous Improvement Network, CACT will offer a one-day Lean Principles training from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28, at Rex Moore, 6001 Outfall Circle, Sacramento. Cost is $120; register with Judy Schmidt, 747-2162 or

A common New Year’s resolution is to be more organized, and humans aren’t the only ones vowing to do so. For Rocklin and other Sacramento-area businesses, Sierra College’s Workplace Organization and Visual Controls program can help them get on the right track.

The college offers training for businesses through its Center for Applied Competitive Technologies. The organization training teaches the “7S” principles of organization, which help organize work areas and increase productivity, according to some happy customers.

Carol Rogers, vice president of Rocklin-based Progressive Technology, said six employees attended the 7S training back in October and have been implementing the changes ever since. The engineered ceramics company works in exotic materials such as sapphire to create dental brackets and components for medical devices.

“The overall cleanliness of the shop has definitely improved,” Rogers said. “People are more in-clined to put things back where they belong, and if they don’t know where they belong they work to find a place where it truly lives, and that’s good.”

Jes Vargas, an external consultant for the program who has 20 years of experience in the field, broke down the 7S principles.

1. Sort. The first step is to sort things into three categories, Vargas ex-plained – things you use on a daily basis, things you use every once in a while and things that are not needed.

“You want to have those things that you use 80 percent of the time on a daily basis within arm’s length or within two steps,” Vargas said.

“It’s huge,” Rogers noted. “You just walk into an arrangement and you just accept the fact that you have to walk 50 feet to get your tools, and until you really study it, you don’t realize how much time that takes away from your productivity.”

2. Shine. This is where the work area is cleaned from top to bottom, making it more useable.

3. Set in order. As items are brought back into the space, workers put them into a logical order based on how often they are used. A common 7S tool is shadow boards, which show where tools are mounted, or even where the tape dispenser should go on a desk – seemingly simple things that can amount to big time savings.

4. Safety. This step ensures that the workplace is safe, and will not cause hazards to the individuals working there.

5. Sustainability. Vargas said this step focuses on “the green,” looking at energy efficiency and cutting out unnecessary hazardous materials.

6. Standardize. Employees create a checklist for each person in the workplace to look at every day, establishing a pattern of how to keep things in order.

7. Sustain. This step focuses on how to keep this good work going, including weekly assessments of organization.

“7S is not a one-time spring cleaning,” Vargas said. “It is that you maintain the area at the same level.”

The 7S Principles evolve into the Lean Principles, Vargas explained. The first of those principles is understanding who the customers are, and what they value from the organization.

“Step No. 2 is to focus on waste elimination, and waste is anything that interrupts the flow of creation of value,” Vargas said. “Anything that does not create value … is considered to be waste.”

Other Lean Principles include focusing on creating a workflow through the “value stream” and understanding the “pull” of the customer, meaning that nothing happens in the process until the customer orders the product or service.

The final principle is pursuit of perfection.

“Perfection is never achieved,” Vargas said, “so therefore you’re constantly looking to perfect your process.”

While 7S and Lean Principles trainings offer some classroom time and workshops, the majority is done on-site, Vargas said, to provide the business with hands-on examples of how to improve workflow.

Rogers pointed out that, at least in Progressive Technology’s case, the benefits of 7S training are more than just increased productivity. The company has been developing a new product, she said, and revenue has not been what it used to be, and employees have been feeling the financial strain. But having the employees who attended the 7S training share what they learned with the rest of the crew, everyone sees how they can help make things better.

“They recognize now, as they’re doing this training, that everyone can contribute to the success of the company, and the bottom line of the company, every day,” Rogers said. “It goes from ‘I just have a job’ to ‘I’m an active participant in the outcome here every day.’ It has been really wonderful to see.”