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What Is The 5S System? - Lean Manufacturing

Tool shadowboard

Lean manufacturing is one of the most prominent trends in production, and is essential to any successful manufacturer. 5S is a key component in achieving lean manufacturing - it is a workplace organizational philosophy that makes operations cleaner, safer, and most importantly more efficient. This Japanese term stands for Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke, which are often translated to Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. By implementing 5S, manufacturers will save great deals of time and prevent unnecessary waste by reorganizing the entire workplace to accelerate every day tasks.

5S diagram

1. Seiri (Sort) - Start by removing all items from the work area. Inspect the equipment and identify those items that are critical to the function performed at the workstation. Eliminate any duplicates, unnecessary equipment, infrequently used items, and trash. Separate essential and non-essential items, and then separate the non-essential items into two categories: waste or non-critical.  Store the non-critical items outside of the workstation area, get rid of the waste.

2. Seiton (Set) - Whatever equipment is deemed critical to the operation must now be organized. Assign specific positions for all equipment and materials. While doing so, keep in mind to identify where these items will go, while also making them easily accessible. The goal is to maximize the efficiency of the workstation layout. The most frequently used tools should be the most convenient to grab.

3. Seiso (Shine) - A clean workspace is a productive workspace, and Seiso literally means "to clean or shine." Clean the floors, walls, and the equipment, then ensure all items are restored to their designated place. Make sure the workstation is well lit. This should be a daily task, and should not be postponed.

4. Seiketsu (Standardize) - Make the previous three S’s part of standard procedures each day. Implement them with the help of signs, banners, shadow boards, tool holders, etc. Make sure all workers understand their responsibilities and are empowered to perform all of the tasks. Standardization can be a difficult process - if the methodology is not enforced, employees will fall into their old ways. Provide a 5S checklist to employees that they should complete each week. 

5. Shitsuke (Sustain) - Be sure to maintain this neat and organized workplace. Sustaining is all about continuously knocking problems out as they arise, this prevents organization in the workplace from getting out of hand. An integral part of this step is teaching employees the 5S methodology. Regularly hold seminars or lessons to keep employees up to date with procedures.

When implemented correctly, a 5S program results in a safe, lean, and organized workplace. It makes it easy to spot missing tools, inefficiencies, and safety hazards. Workflow is simplified and nonconformities are easily identifiable. Employees will also have the satisfaction of working in an environment that they have taken ownership of by cleaning and organizing it!

See how UNEX products can help implement 5S and achieve lean manufacturing!

Lean Manufacturing Guidebook Cover Page Sreenshot-2

CLICK HERE for our Guide on Lean Manufacturing!

Posted by: Craig Moberg