Understanding the 5S’s of Kaizen

Let’s look now at details of the 5S’s of the Kaizen continuous improvement approach. Let’s first note that 5S is the name of a way of organizing the workplace. The letter S refers to the first letter of each of 5 words. Each is a Japanese word starting with this S sound.

When you use 5S you have an effective and efficient way of organizing a work environment.
You can easily find, store, and maintain tools and equipment in the work place. You also are able to sustain this order and have standardization. This means employees can easily understand how they should do their work.

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What visual means in this context
When an industrial organization uses a 5S arrangement we also hear this is a visual factory. This means you use visual control to help employees. Visual work place is another term used in this context. With this kind of visual factory, you also increase the safety of the workplace as the 5S arrangement helps with safety too.

The 5S factors include that you sort, set up order, shine, standardize, and sustain.
Let’s look at each in more detail now:

1-Sort: what we mean

Work should become easier in this kind of environment as you have no unnecessary distractions. You also eliminate obstacles. You sort through the workplace and keep only what you need. You evaluate what you need and remove parts or tools you do not use. Unused material is something you segregate.

When you sort you also can identify red tag items. You place these in a designated red tag area if you cannot dispose of them right away. You dispose of them as possible. Keeping this part of 5S in order requires discipline and supervision. You must check on a regular basis that you keep in your work space only what you need. You must also keep up with waste removal.

2-Set Up an Order: what we mean

In this part of 5S you set up tools and equipment so you can easily select and use them. You make sure necessary items are easy to access. You do not waste time as all you need to work is readily available. You also prevent loss of time when set up is a priority.

FIFO is a concept that applies here and refers to First In First Out. You make work flow smooth. You make work easier. With this part of 5S you keep set up something you do regularly and methodically. You place components in an area that is most efficient – what you use most frequently you have nearest to you.

3-Shine: what we mean

With this component of 5S we mean cleaning the workplace at a set interval of time, even daily if so established. Cleaning and inspection are tied together. With cleaning you help to keep equipment and machinery in good order with less deterioration. We also have a place where it is easy to work and safe too. When something is not in its place or cleaned, it is clear. Workers can easily fix this. Employees can find their work place pleasing when you follow the Shine part of 5S.

Read About Relation between 5S and Kaizen

4-Standardize: what we mean

Standardization in this 5S context means you pick the best practices for a work area and organization and stick to those practices. You keep high standards at all times and keep all items in order according to a standard that is written down. Every process has a standard.

5-Sustain: what we mean

When you look at the sustain part of 5S you refer to training and discipline. You keep all the other parts in place with employees knowing what to do intuitively. Training is part of this step. Feedback is too.

Let’s Review
Let’s remember that the parts of 5S include sorting, setting up an order, shining, standardizing, and sustaining. Once you better understand the 5S approach of Kaizen you can be on your way to improving the processes of an organization and also improve business results.

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