5S method

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5S method
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5S method (5xS, 5S) is a philosophy, a way of thinking and focusing on organizing and managing the workspace by eliminating 7 Wastes (Muda) while improving quality and safety. 5S is customarily implemented in connection with Kaizen, Lean manufacturing. However, 5S can be a stand-alone program. The 5S stand for the five first letters of the Japanese words: Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, Shitsuke. According to rules, the employees should (S. Ho, K. M. Samuel 1998, s. 56):

  • have only essential articles in their workplace,
  • have constant and marked places for maintaining things,
  • care about orderliness, cleanliness and arrangement of workplace,
  • see the instructions concerning basic actions connected with workplace maintaining,
  • be highly aware and motivated.

History of 5S method

Originally, the rules was created in the mid 1950s in Japan and in the beginning only four principles were introduced: Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu. Later, a fifth rule was added – Shitsuke (discipline) (T. A. Fabrizio, D. Tapping 2006, s. 2). As the popularity of 5S System has grown in the United States, it became more common to use English terms, for instance: Five-S Campaign or Five-C Campaign, depending on translation (M. Imai 1997, s. 104).

Principles of 5S method

Model of 5S method

Seiri (Sort)

Focuses on eliminating unnecessary items from the workplace. In order to identify mentioned unneeded items a visual method called red tagging can be used. A red tag is placed on each item that is not required to complete the job. This process is used in order to evaluate the red tag items. Sorting is a way to free up valuable floor space and eliminate such things as: broken tools, obsolete jigs and fixtures, scrap and excess raw material. All these items are removed from the production area.

The Benefits of Seiri:

  • Fewer hazards,
  • Less clutter to interfere with productive work,
  • Simplification of tasks,
  • Effective use of space,
  • Careful purchasing of items.

Seiton (Set in Order)

Focuses on storage methods that are efficient and effective (sometimes called "Visual Management") like colour-coding: painting floors, outlining work areas and locations, outlining tools on a tool board, and modular shelving and cabinets for needed items such as trash cans, brooms, mop and buckets.

The Benefits of Seiton:

  • Good workflow that leads to achievement
  • Things can be easily found by everyone
  • Less stress and time spent on the process

Seiso (Shine)

Once the clutter and junk are eliminated, the next step is to properly clean the work area. Daily cleaning is necessary in order to sustain this improvement. Employees fell comfortable in a clean and clutter-free work area. The Shine step helps to create ownership in the equipment and facility. Workers notices the changes in the production place such as air, oil and coolant leaks, repeat contamination and vibration, broken, breakage, fatigue, and misalignment.

The Benefits of Seiso:

  • A good impression,
  • Better health,
  • A better quality of life,
  • Improved self-esteem.

Seiketsu (Standardize)

If the first three 5S's have been implemented, new practices have to be standardized in the work area. Employees need to be allowed to participate in the development of the standards. They are a valuable source of information regarding the processes.

The Benefits of Seiketsu:

  • Creating the new norms which indicates new status quo in the workplace,
  • Defining standards of higher quality that must be upheld by everyone.

Shitsuke (Sustain)

Shitsuke is the most difficult S to implement and achieve. Human nature is to resist change. Therefore, the tendency is to return to the status quo and the comfort zone of the "old way" of doing things. Sustain focuses on defining a new status quo and standard of work place organization.

The Benefits of Shitsuke:

  • No gradual decline back to the previous way of working.

5S system implementation

The implementation of 5S method requires engagement of top management as well as workers. The methods is being implemented process by process, workplace by workplace. The level of engagement increases as workers can see the effects: cleaner, more pleasant workplaces, more pleasant work.

Step 1. Choose the process

It is convenient to implement 5S method step by step, beginning with the first workplace in the process. Choose the process which is important, but not too complicated. It will be the testing ground for the project. Choose managers and workers that will work together in 5S team. Train them.

Step 2. Analyse workplace and its surroundings

This and following steps will be repeated for each stand. You should answer following questions:

  • what is required in the workplace to perform the work?
  • how many resources should be available to ensure uninterrupted process?
  • how many products should be stored in the workplace?
  • is there anything that can improve work? (e.g. using Poka yoke concept)

The workers that perform work in that workplace should be a part of the team during the analysis.

Step 3. Sort, Order, Shine

Remove all unnecessary equipment, resources, tools, products, etc. Clean the workplace. Order all the tools that left. Consider using shadow board - a board with fixed place for every tool. This helps workers to get used to where the tools are. This limits number of errors and limits time required to find the tools.

It is a good idea to paint the machines, make new signs. Change also clothes of workers - give them new uniforms. If the workplace looks like new, other workers will be more willing to engage into the project. Create new procedures for the workplace that will be compatible with new order.

Step 4. Standardize

Workers need some time to get used to new rules. The team should monitor the workplace and consult the workers to find any problems that arise after the change. Typical problems are:

  • inappropriate procedures,
  • lacking tools (or just old customs)
  • problems in cooperation with other workplaces

All the problems should be solved before moving to another workplace

Step 5. Sustain

Workers are responsible for keeping the workplace in order. You can introduce motivation system based on 5S. If the workplace is in accord with 5S rules, the workers can gain bonuses.

Go to the next workplace in the process and repeat steps from 2 to 5.

Benefits of 5S method

  • Clean work place
  • Reduction in materials handling
  • Reduced lead time and cycle time
  • Reduced search time
  • Reduced changeover time
  • Decrease in flow distance
  • Increased floor space
  • Reduced equipment breakdowns
  • Improves workplace safety
  • Fewer hazards
  • Establishes standards for operating equipment and conducting processes Less spending on replacing lost or damaged items
  • Less stress and tiredness
  • Improved morale and pride in the workplace
  • Greater self-esteem
  • Improvement of communication
  • Increase in productivity
  • Fast work
  • Improved appearance of the facility and expectation for compliance to maintain that condition
  • Better and constant quality of products, services
  • Training time reduced for new employees
  • Greater efficiency in achieving goals
  • Greater readiness for new tasks
  • Better impression on clients

Five-C Campaign

5C is the same 5S, however translated differently (M. Imai 1997, s. 105):

  • Clear out – determine what is essential and what is needless, then remove the second one.
  • Configure – ensure suitable and safe place for everything.
  • Clean and check – observe conditions and bring back neatness in the workplace.
  • Conform – establish standard, learn, use and keep it.
  • Custom and practice – develop habit and aim at better solutions.


Author: Magdalena Mleczkowska, Justyna Michalik