5S is the name of a workplace organization
methodology that uses a list of five Japanese words which are seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu and shitsuke. The
list describes how to organize a work space for efficiency and effectiveness by identifying and storing the
items used, maintaining the area and items, and sustaining the new order. The decision-making process usually
comes from a dialogue about standardization which builds a clear understanding among employees of how work
should be done. It also instills ownership of the process in each employee.
five S’s are described below:
There are 5 primary phases of 5S: Sorting,
Straightening, Systematic Cleaning, Standardizing, and Sustaining. Additionally, there are three other phases
sometimes included; Safety, Security, and Satisfaction.
1. Sort (Seiri) Eliminate all unnecessary
tools, parts, and instructions. Go through all tools, materials, and so forth in the plant and work area.
Keep only essential items and eliminate what is not required, prioritizing things per requirements and
keeping them in easily-accessible places. Everything else is stored or discarded.
2. Straightening (Seiton) There
should be a place for everything and everything should be in its place. The place for each item should be
clearly labeled or demarcated. Items should be arranged in a manner that promotes efficient work flow, with
equipment used most often being the most easily accessible. Workers should not have to bend repetitively to
access materials. Each tool, part, supply, or piece of equipment should be kept close to where it will be
used – in other words, straightening the flow path. Seiton is one of the features that distinguishes 5S from
"standardized cleanup". This phase can also be referred to as Simplifying.
3. Sweeping or shining or cleanliness/systematic cleaning
(Seiso) Clean the workspace and all equipment, and keep it clean, tidy and organized. At the end of each
shift, clean the work area and be sure everything is restored to its place. This makes it easy to know what
goes where and ensures that everything is where it belongs. Spills, leaks, and other messes also then become
a visual signal for equipment or process steps that need attention. A key point is that maintaining
cleanliness should be part of the daily work – not an occasional activity initiated when things get too
4. Standardizing (Seiketsu) Work practices
should be consistent and standardized. All work stations for a particular job should be identical. All
employees doing the same job should be able to work in any station with the same tools that are in the same
location in every station. Everyone should know exactly what his or her responsibilities are for adhering to
the first 3 S's.
5. Sustaining the discipline or self-discipline
(Shitsuke) Maintain and review standards. Once the previous 4 S's have been established, they become the
new way to operate. Maintain focus on this new way and do not allow a gradual decline back to the old ways.
While thinking about the new way, also be thinking about yet better ways. When an issue arises such as a
suggested improvement, a new way of working, a new tool or a new output requirement, review the first 4 S's
and make changes as appropriate.
6. Safety A sixth phase, "Safety", is sometimes added.
There is debate over whether including this sixth "S" promotes safety by stating this value explicitly, or if
a comprehensive safety program is undermined when it is relegated to a single item in an efficiency-focused
7. Security A seventh phase, "Security", can also be added. In order
to leverage security as an investment rather than an expense, the seventh "S" identifies and addresses risks
to key business categories including fixed assets (PP&E), material, human capital, brand equity,
intellectual property, information technology, assets-in-transit and the extended supply chain.
8. Satisfaction An eighth phase,
“Satisfaction”, can be included . Employee Satisfaction and engagement in
continuous improvement activities ensures the improvements will be sustained and improved upon. The Eighth
waste – Non Utilized Intellect, Talent, and Resources can be the most damaging waste of all.
It is important to have continuous education
about maintaining standards. When there are changes that affect the 5S program such as new equipment, new
products or new work rules, it is essential to make changes in the standards and provide training. Companies
often use posters and signs as a way of educating employees and maintaining standards of the 5S