The 5S System is a lean manufacturing tool that improves efficiency and eliminates waste. First used in the Toyota Production System (TPS). The 5S System seeks to mitigate the factors contributing to process inefficiencies with six areas of concern: sort, set in order, shine, standardize, sustain, and safety.
Understanding the 5S System
The 5S System is a workplace organization method originating from Japan and was integral to the success of just-in-time (lean) manufacturing. It was first incorporated into the Toyota Production System (TPS) along with many other lean manufacturing tools.
With a key focus on clean and organized workplaces, the 5S System is particularly important to the TPS and most other manufacturing operations. Cluttered and disorganized work areas can lead to mistakes, accidents, and line interruptions – all of which negatively impact a company’s manufacturing efficiency.
The five steps of the 5S System
Given the system was created in Japan, each step denotes a Japanese term beginning with the letter S. There is also an optional sixth step that some organizations choose to adopt.
Let’s take a look at each of these below, with an English translation provided in brackets:
- Seiri (sort) – tools, parts, and instructions that are required should be separated from those that are not required. The latter should then be removed from the area, including broken, redundant, or outdated equipment.
- Seiton (set in order) – whatever items remain should then be organized, arranged, or identified for ease of use. Businesses can arrange in whatever way they see fit, so long as waste is minimized. For example, heavy items should be placed at a height that makes them easy to handle.
- Seiso (shine) – the workplace should be clean and free from dust, dirt, spills, or garbage. Tools and equipment should also be kept clean and in working order. If necessary, establish a daily cleaning regime with a chart displaying action items.
- Seiketsu (standardize) – the standardization of best practices is a priority. Standardization should also make it easy for workers in one area to seamlessly move to another. Workplaces should also define what constitutes normal and abnormal conditions with photos, labels, signs, or guides.
- Shitsuke (sustain) – behaviors or habits must then be fostered to ensure standards are maintained over the long term. This may involve audits, reviews, continuous improvement, training, and the commitment of leaders to follow through.
- Safety – an optional consideration helping businesses avoid obsessing over lean manufacturing to the detriment of their workers. Safety is not a sequential step but instead is paramount to each part of the 5S System.
Benefits of the 5S System
There are many obvious and not-so-obvious benefits to the 5S System.
- Less wasted space – with each square meter of floor space costing money, most businesses will benefit from the removal of superfluous equipment or the re-organization of existing equipment. This maximizes the profitability of the production facility.
- Fewer injuries – when done correctly, organized workspaces reduce the frequency and intensity of manual labor for workers. Removing clutter also negates trip hazards and associated injuries.
- Higher morale – employees using the 5S system feel empowered to do better since their valuable input is listened to and then implemented by management. Morale is also boosted by safer, more efficient work practices.
- Reduced equipment downtime – dirty or poorly maintained tools and equipment cost the company money in downtime, repairs, and worker injury. When essential infrastructure is kept in good working order and potential failures are identified earlier, costs are reduced.
- The 5S System is a lean manufacturing tool that improves efficiency and eliminates waste. It was first used in the Toyota Production System (TPS).
- The 5S System seeks to mitigate the factors contributing to process inefficiencies with six areas of concern: sort, set in order, shine, standardize, sustain, and safety.
- The 5S System reduces operating costs by freeing up floor space for other uses. It also reduces workplace injuries and equipment downtime.
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