What is 5s?

5S represents 5 disciplines for maintaining a visual workplace. These are foundational to Kaizen and a manufacturing strategy based "Lean Manufacturing" concepts. 5S is the starting point for improvement activities that ensure our company’s survival.

The 5 disciplines are:

1. SORT - Remove all items from the workplace that are not needed for current operations. Leave only the bare essentials.

a) Targets excess inventory, obsolete items, quality defects, unneeded tools / equipment.

b) Will use red tags, local and central red tag holding areas; Account for discarded items.

c) Take before and after pictures.

2. SET IN ORDER – Arrange needed items so that they are easy to find, use and put away.

a) Consider motion economy

b) Use painting, outlining and signboard strategies, Visual 5S

3. SHINE – Sweeping, wiping-off equipment, painting & assuring everything stays clean.

a) Create 5S schedules for painting.

b) Must create cleaning inspection checklists.

c) Create current and future shine targets.

4. STANDARDIZE – Method to maintain the first 3 disciplines (sort, set-in-order, shine)

a) Prevention steps for clutter-suspension, incorporation, elimination.

b) Integrate 3S duties into regular work with 5S job cycle charts, 5 minute 5S, visual 5S activities.

5. SUSTAIN – A top-down support of the ongoing 5S process. Must create the conditions to support 5S

  • a) Allocate time.
  • b) Create awareness.
  • c) Provide a structure.
  • d) Show support.
  • e) Offer rewards and recognition.
  • f) Encourage training/participation.

The 5 Ss are about doing the basics. They provide a foundation on which to build other quality activities. With a tidy, disciplined environment, you can see many of the things which need further attention. Companies that live in chaos, no matter how fashionable it is these days, spend a lot of time in unproductive activities. This is not to say that chaos does not have its place—in creative situations where you want to think out of the box, chaos can be a welcome friend. But the truth of most companies is that a very large proportion of activities could benefit from more control rather than more chaos.

Implementing the 5 Ss requires full cooperation of all involved. This in itself is an amazingly powerful activity. When people realize that these simple activities have such power, and that by implementing them well, the workplace becomes a more pleasant place, the principles will get more enthusiastically embraced.