Phoenix Mecano Welcomes Intern Samantha Button and Her New Approach for Maintenance Department Organization: 5S

20-year-old Samantha Button had a big challenge in front of her when she joined the Phoenix Mecano team as an intern this past May: organizing the maintenance closet.

She explains that the huge closet is full of spare parts that haven’t been used in eight years, with more parts being added as time goes by. “We needed to make sure the maintenance team knew where to find parts when they needed them, and that they weren’t keeping things they had no use for.” The closet was full of duplicate and outdated parts, each taking up space and costing the PM maintenance department money in inventory holding costs.

Samantha, graduating from West Virginia University in December of 2022, was studying the 5S system in school and was excited to use it to get things organized at PM.

5S is a method of tackling big messes to get an area that is clean, safe, and well organized, reducing waste and optimizing productivity. Samantha explains the five steps as sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain.

“First, you sort through the clutter and decide what should be kept. You put a tag on things you keep, and if you haven’t used it in a year, you throw it out. Next is set in order or organizing what’s left over after you purge unnecessary items. Afterwards, you clean the area and schedule a routine upkeep of the area to make sure everything is in its place. Finally, after all that hard work, you need to make a conscious commitment to keep the area cleaned and organized.”

The maintenance department is a somewhat unusual place to use the 5S methodology, but it was extremely important to get the team organized. Rebekah Collogan, Phoenix Mecano Engineering Services Director, encouraged Samantha to use her knowledge and get the department better organized. “Time is money,” Rebekah said. “If a machine breaks down, we need to find the replacement parts immediately and get the machine up and running as quickly as possible. For the maintenance department, cleaner equals faster.”

This was more than a project for Samantha, though. It was a great opportunity to use her education in a real-world setting. “I had just been studying 5S,” Samantha explained. “I am enjoying the process of applying my knowledge in an industrial setting.”

Samantha, a Maryland native, has decided that she doesn’t want to go to grad school after she finishes her studies. “I’m too excited to get into the real world of a big company experience, to use what I’ve learned, and to show what I know.”

With a major in industrial engineering and a minor in business, Samantha is enjoying putting her education to use at Phoenix Mecano. “The team has been great,” explains the intern. “They are very supportive. The engineering team is focused on finding out what I enjoy about the job, and encouraging me to pursue my passions. I feel like they have all gone out of their way to get to know me, and they always tell me what a great job I’m doing.”

Rebekah is proud of the progress Samantha is making with her internship at Phoenix Mecano. “I really appreciate her willingness to take on any task,” she explains. “Not everything is a glorious or technical task. Her first few weeks here were spent cleaning out closets and other manual labor, but she rises to each task with a willing spirit and happy heart. She is so capable, and I enjoy watching her use her engineering knowledge here in the real world.”

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys visiting her friends at Cheat Lake in West Virginia, or traveling to Ocean City to get some beach time. “I love being outdoors when it’s warm, hiking and walking.” She also enjoys putting together big puzzles, and timing herself on how long it takes her to finish a 1,000 piece puzzle.

Samantha has been learning so much with the friendly team at Phoenix Mecano, and has enjoyed applying her education to the organization. “Sitting in meetings, my mind is so excited to hear real world applications of what I’ve learned in school. You go through so many years in school learning things that aren’t always used, so it’s really a great experience to see what I’m learning being implemented in a real way.”

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