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Maintenance Yard eliminates 75 tons of waste, opening up 10,000 sq feet of storage - for free.

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

How the San Francisco Rec and Park Structural Maintenance Yard used 5S to transform their century-old trade shops.

In 2018, when PPI partners Ryan Hunter and Jenessa Rozier were still with San Francisco, they helped the team at the Rec Park Structural Maintenance Yard with a problem: they were outgrowing their yard, which had been converted from historic horse stables in Golden Gate Park in the early 20th century. At the same time, they were drowning in piles of obsolete materials, collected from a hundred years of maintaining park structures across the city: Not wanting to waste anything, the yard staff stashed surplus stuff in every nook and cranny.

The result? The crazy room.

“Don't go in the crazy room. There's no light in there.”

We were told this room, on the side of the warehouse, had no electricity. It was packed wall-to-wall with stuff such that you couldn't even open the door.

The truth? It had been so full of junk for so long, they forgot it ever had a light switch.

The good news? Yard staff were ready to do what was needed to change.

5S to the rescue

At PPI, we teach a simple lean tool, 5S, to organize physical space. For Rec Park, Ryan and Jenessa worked with representatives from every trade shop to:

  • Open every door and closet in the Yard to find broken, obsolete, and excess materials

  • Document current storage areas for all trade shops

  • Create clear standards for when material should be retained versus disposed of

  • Identify where current storage created bottlenecks, safety concerns, or inefficiencies

All 100+ staff at the Structural Maintenance Yard joined in a yard-wide cleanup day to perform the "Sort" step of 5S: going through their 100 years of supplies to remove unneeded items from the work area.

Yard staff found and recycled 75 tons of unneeded material. They also found buried treasures: unopened power tools and forgotten equipment, historic statuary, century-old blueprints, and -- my personal favorite -- a brand for Golden Gate Park's herd of bison.

In the process, they recovered more than 10,000 sq ft of storage space, traded storage areas to keep each trade's materials together rather than dispersed across the yard, cleaned their spaces, and created a more pleasant place to work. You can read more about what they achieved in the success story above!

And the crazy room? They gave it to the plumbing shop to consolidate their storage. It even has lights.

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