Implementing 5S Workplace Organization Methodology

5S Sustain

5S is a methodology for organization, standardization and cleanliness.  At the heart of 5S is the lean goal of reducing waste.  5S addresses the wastes generated through disorganization and provides a way of eliminating that disorganization.

Lean Manufacturing focuses on streamlining processes and eliminating wastes.  The 7 Wastes of Lean Manufacturing categorize the types of waste in a factory.  Different lean experts have expanded on this with the 8 Wastes of Lean, with the eighth waste addressing different types of waste outside of the traditional lean framework.  5S directly relates to most if not all of the 7 Wastes.

At its most basic, 5S is an organization and housekeeping program.  The old proverb “A place for everything, and everything in its place” captures much of the philosophy behind 5S.

A successful 5S program will eliminate everything unnecessary from a company, and ensure all essential tools, materials and resources are located so they can be used most effectively.  As a 5S program is implemented, the organization becomes so clear and obvious that anyone walking through a plant can spot when something is out of place.  This immediate visual feedback is critical to a 5S program and lean in general, as it ensures adherence and sustainability of the program.

The 5 S’s

  • Sort – Identify what is essential and what must be discarded
  • Straighten – Establish locations for everything essential and label the locations
  • Shine – Clean everything
  • Standardize – Establish standards and expectations for the team
  • Sustain – Maintain adherence to the 5S program

Advantages of 5S in Manufacturing

5S has numerous benefits to a manufacturing operation:

  • Reduced Downtime: The most obvious benefit of 5S is that tools are easier to find.  This reduces downtime as workers can immediately find what they need.
  • Less Damage to Tools: When tools are put away properly, they are less likely to be damaged.
  • Better Quality: In disorganized shops, it is common for workers to substitute an inadequate tool for the proper tool when the proper tool cannot be found.  This leads to longer setups, damage to tooling and improper setups that reduce product quality.
  • Better Inspection Processes: One of the most important elements in a 5S program is organizing the quality inspection process.  By making the inspection easier (through good organization), quality checks will be performed more regularly and with better attention to detail.
  • Fewer Mistakes:  When everything is in a standard location and clearly labeled, it is much less likely that a person will select the wrong tool or material.
  • Better Safety:  By organizing everything, 5S will eliminate the hazards of items left out.  Often, disorganization creates tripping/fall hazards, but can also affect safety in other ways.  The more cluttered an area is, the less obvious safety hazards will be.
  • Worker Commitment and Pride:  A clean well organized shop floor improves the pride workers feel toward their jobs and company.  This pride leads to better commitment and better performance.

Advantages of 5S Outside of Manufacturing

Every organization can benefit from the principles of 5S.  Good organization reduces downtime, improves quality, and leads to better overall performance.  Many industries embrace the principles of 5S.  This is most obvious where the effects of a quality problem are extremely costly.  For example, hospitals have very rigorous 5S programs.  It is understood in this environment that having a resource out of place can cause a life or death situation.  In other fields, the acceptance of disorganization is common place as the implications of this are often easy to overlook.  In an office environment, disorganization causes lower productivity and more mistakes.