“When in Doubt, Move it Out”
The first step in 5S is Sorting essential from non-essential items. The goal is to leave only the items that needed to perform each job. Anything else is clutter and hurts the productivity and effectiveness of a work cell.
The determination of what is essential is purely focused on what should be kept and what should be discarded. At this stage, the location of items is not a significant concern. Locations will be tackled in the second step – Straighten.
Before you start sorting, take a photo of the area. This will be useful after 5S has been implemented to document the “before” conditions.
When Sorting, focus on one small area at a time. Perform the Sort activity completely before moving on to the next area. This will ensure every item in an area is assessed.
During the Sort process, it may be impossible to discard some items immediately. The items may require specialized handling equipment, or have hazardous materials that must be disposed of. When encountering something that cannot be discarded immediately, red tag the item. This will serve as a visible reminder of items to be discarded.
Color coding items is an effective technique during the Sort step of 5S. Choose a color for each department and apply a tag to items related to that department. For example, you code Production blue, quality yellow, safety green, and maintenance purple. A red tag would indicate something needs to be discarded. Color coding will ensure everything is taken where it should go.
After sorting everything in an area, take pictures of the area. This will demonstrate the dramatic change in the “after” conditions.