If you’re in manufacturing or related industries, you’ve likely stumbled upon the term “5S” before. This abbreviation refers to an organizational concept that’s based on a similarly structured Japanese methodology.
5 steps to success
This system is used by organizations for cleaning and maintaining order in their workspaces, which are especially important features within industrial sectors. There are various “pillars” that make up the concept:
Breaking down the system
Each of these points refers to a step in the organizational process. The method starts with “sort,” which means workers should put away any materials not needed for production purposes, leaving only absolutely essential items. LISTA explained that this step helps reduce distractions or potential safety risks, which can increase productivity and reduce the chances an accident will occur.
The next cog in the wheel is “set in order,” which is another organizational technique. It means workers should place tools in the most convenient manner around their workspace, as to optimize productivity, and they should label items clearly so they can be put away later. Grainger explained that this step can be summed up by the old adage, “a place for everything, and everything in its place.”
“Shine” is up next, which simply means that workplaces should be cleaned every day. This helps keep materials in good shape, and can also contribute to an overall positive work environment. The cleaner an area is, the better workers will feel, which in turn bolsters employee satisfaction and productivity.
For “standardize,” organizations must make 5S a ubiquitous system across the board. This step ensures that the rest of the 5S system will be followed succinctly so that organizations can maximize on its effectiveness. Some examples of “standardize” include posting rules in workspaces and creating visible checklists, explained Grainger.
Lastly, workers need to adhere to “sustain.” This step refers to the enforcement of the previous rules so that people are motivated to follow the program. LISTA noted that this step often includes disciplining employees who don’t adhere to 5S, as it’s a system that relies on complete participation in order to be successful. An example of this step would be reprimanding a worker who regularly neglects to clean his or her workspace, or who does not replace tools after he or she is done working with them.