What is 5S?

5S is a process to achieve a safe, efficient and organized workplace.  It allows people to see if things are abnormal quickly, so they can address the issue.  It does not keep people from doing something.  5S just allows someone to see if something isn’t right quickly.

The Five S’s are:

  1. Sort – Decide what is needed and what is not needed.  Get rid of the things not needed.
  2. Straighten – Understand how things are used and put them in an appropriate place for the work space.
  3. Shine – Clean and label the area.
  4. Standardize – The work you have done is the new standard and needs to be kept that way.
  5. Sustain – The hardest part is not to let the work space degrade.  Put checks in place to keep the standards in place.

Quite often 5S is equated with being lean.  A large number of people believe that 5S is foundational to being lean. The thought is 5S is the first thing an organization must do to be lean.  That is not necessarily the case.

Something as simple as organizing the workplace can help improve the efficiency of many things you do.  I have seen 5S help gain large improvements with quick changeovers of machines.  Looking for tools always seems to be the biggest waste when breaking down a setup of a machine, so having the tools in a particular spot every time can help a lot.

5S is not just for the manufacturing floor.  It can benefit any work space, including in the office.  But you do have to be careful.  When it comes to 5S in the office many people get carried away.  They prescribe marking where the computer should be and taping an outline around the stapler at everyone’s desk.  This isn’t the purpose of 5S, so be sure to do 5S correctly in the office in environment.

Think of a NASCAR garage when doing 5S.  It is spotless.  The reason, so any drip from the car can be seen immediately and the problem can be addressed.  You can’t go too far with organizing your work place.

5S is hard work.  The hardest part is sustaining the work of the first 4S’s.  Sustaining the work takes discipline.  If the discipline is maintained the rewards of 5S can be great.

Good luck on your path to success with 5S.

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Posted on June 3, 2013, in Tools, Waste and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. The reason that 5S is associated with Lean methodologies is that it is part of the TPS (Toyota Production System). This system is credited with making Toyota plants the most efficient and profitable in the world.

    Lean processes are about reducing what we call TAKT times, or the time it takes to make a product. The Japanese have proved that an organized workspace reduces TAKT which increases throughput which increase profit.

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