Gemba Concepts

Introduction to 5S Methodology

Hi folks, in this article we will discuss a key tool in lean manufacturing. The 5S’s, and the benefits of implementing 5S.

The 5S system is a lean manufacturing tool used by many organisations to increase the productivity, efficiency, and quality by making the workplace pleasant, orderly and organised. By providing a systematic framework for organization and cleanliness, 5S helps facilities avoid lost productivity from delayed work or unplanned downtime.

The Steps in 5S :

1 Sort – Remove unwanted items from the workplace.

2 Set In Order – A place for everything and everything in its place.

3 Shine – Clean and inspect each workplace and tools.

4 Standardize – Set standards to maintain an organized workplace.

5 Sustain  – Retain and improve all the benefits achieved.

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1. Sort

Sorting is the initial step in the implementation of 5S in an organization, which separates the necessary from the unnecessary items and clear up the space.

Steps in Sort:

Clearing the Workplace

For this, observe a workplace and remove every item that is not necessary in that space. Either the removed items should be scraped or it should be assigned to another workspace if needed.Every work area should only have items that are required for the work done in that area.


In this activity a highly visible tag is attached to the items that doesn’t belong to a work place or whose ownership is uncertain. The tagged items are collected together and placed at a single designated location. So that if a tool or material is missing from the workplace, one can check the red tag collection area if it was found somewhere else. A periodical check on the red tag collection should be done to ensure nothing is missing.

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2. Set In Order

Set In Order is known as “seiton” in Japanese, which translates to “orderliness”. The goal of this step is to organize the workspace and arrange the tools and equipment, so that it is easy to find, use and return.

Tools and equipment that are frequently used are placed together and those tools which are not required frequently should be placed in a common area, so that every department can access them. Items that are normally used together should be kept together.

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A 5S map is created to get an overview of a work area. It provide the information about where the tools, equipment, supplies and travel path are, and how the relate to each other.

3. Shine

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The third step in 5S is to clean. Workers clean the dirt that build up in the machines and tools. After an initial through cleaning, workers clean the area every day. Cleaning includes machines, equipment, tools and the work area.

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The shine phase creates a pleasant atmosphere for the workers and increase their efficiency. Each worker must clean their work area themselves, as this will make them familiar with the space and they can quickly notice any problems or if any tools is missing. With the constant cleaning and inspection the system can be subjected to preventive maintenance program, which can extend the lifetime of machines and prevent any sudden breakdown.

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4. Standardize

This step involves creating ways to sustain the previous steps. This is done by documenting what is being done, where, by whom and incorporation the new practice into the normal work procedure. Writing down the decisions and the changes made will help sustain the work done. These standards can be changed with new ideas or business needs.Following are some tools for standardizing;

5S checklist – List each and every steps in a process, this will make it easy for the workers to completely follow the process.

Job cycle charts – Decide a schedule for each work that is performed in a work area and assign particular workers for that work, and the chart should be posted visibly to avoid doubts.

Procedure labels and signs – Provide operating procedures, cleaning steps, and preventive maintenance methods to each departments.

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5. Sustain

The 5S approach should be an on-going cycle not a onetime thing, so it is important to follow the decisions and the changes made and continually check on the previous steps. If the free space created after the sort is filled with tools and material that are not meant to be there it will lead to a difficult situation for the organization, the solution is to apply the idea of 5S over and over, and make it a routine part of normal work.

Some elements in sustaining 5S are;

Management support – The supervisors and managers should be involved in sustaining the 5S process, provide the workers with enough tools, and getting feedback from the workers.

Department Tours – Arranging teams visit other plants as this will make them familiarize about different market trends and work processes. This will help in spreading new ideas in the organization.

Updated Training – Training of workers on the new updates done in the organization like new tools or equipment is very important and the 4S standards should be revised to accommodate these changes.

Progress Audit – The standards created by the 5S approach should provide specific and measurable goals and a periodic audit can provide important information and guidance.

Performance Evaluation – The performance of every worker should be evaluated and the result should be posted so each team can see how they compare to the rest of the organization.

Benefits of 5S implementation

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Less wasted space : Removing unnecessary material will clear up space for ne useful materials.

Reduced Equipment downtime : When the tools and equipment are kept clean, routinely inspected, preventive maintenance is much easier thus major equipment failures can often be prevented entirely.

Reduced Delays : Getting rid of unwanted items and organizing tools and supplies will eliminate the confusion and helps the workers find the correct tool without any delay.

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Improvement in employee morale : 5S creates a positive and clean atmosphere for the workers, and starts a new culture in the company. This creates an environment in which workers take an interest in improving the company.

Safety Improvement : The routinely cleaned work area ensures a safe atmosphere for the workers. The ergonomic work area will reduce the fatigue and injuries.

That’s all for today folks, hope you enjoyed it. Kindly share your views/ feedback so that we can help you by adding more value in upcoming articles.

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Gemba Concepts
5S has always been our primary weapon to fight waste. Thus our today’s article is an introduction to hashtag5S implementation and by the end of article you’ll understand how beneficial is this simple tool in our daily work routine. Don’t forget to leave a comment and let us know how you feel about this. hashtaglean hashtagleanmanufacturing hashtagmanufacturingecxellence hashtagqualityimprovent hashtagGembaconcepts hashtagKnowledge hashtagIndustrialengineering hashtagblogging
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