When it comes to implementing 5S, we should recognize its importance in delivering outstanding results in the areas of Safety, Quality, Productivity and Efficiency and Cost as well as improving staff morale and the Company’s image. In many instances, unfortunately, 5S is looked upon as a cleaning program where a team of employees get together and start cleaning their work areas by clearing away unwanted items at first and then straightening, sweeping and putting a shine on the place. Even though these steps are indeed part of the principles of 5S, we should keep in mind that the main objective behind implementing the 5S program is to achieve higher goals of work improvement, and that this will not be successful if the practices are not consistently maintained. Thus, let’s discuss the principles of 5S and the benefits achieved through implementation of the 5S projects.
The five steps of 5S, in Japanese, are Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke, which are translated into English as Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. Throughout the implementation of these principles any inefficiency, abnormality, waste or unsafe condition would be brought to light and thereby dealt with. The activities performed in these steps, in short, are described as follows:
- Seiri / Sort:Identify all items needed in the workplace and then clear and remove any unnecessary ones.
- Seiton / Straighten: Organize the necessary items in the workplace by utilizing visual tools such as labels, color coding, etc.
- Seiso / Shine:Clean and sweep the workplace.
- Seiketsu / Standardize:Standardize the first 3 steps and make sure that all team members are trained in how to perform these steps with consistency.
- Shitsuke / Sustain:Share information about the implemented 5S projects with all the team members of the organization and set up a monitoring system to observe the maintenance of the organized and standardized workplace.
The immediately observed benefits of performing 5S are the provision of all indicators necessary to understand the status of any process at any given time, and the creation of an environment in which necessary items are easily located within a few seconds. However, more importantly, it allows us to gain benefits in improving progress towards the organization’s goals in the following areas:
Improved Safety: The frequency of accidents and incidents will be reduced since 5S implementation allows hazardous conditions to become visible and in turn be dealt with. Some examples include proper storage of hazardous materials, removal of trip-hazards, installation of safety guards, clear separation of working areas from traffic aisles, etc.
Improved Quality: Once 5S is done, there is a place for everything that is needed and everything is in its designated place, thereby minimizing errors and mistakes in acquiring the correct item, resulting in improved quality of work. Also, by solving the problems and correcting the abnormalities which surface due to 5S implementation, we increase the quality of job performance.
Improved Productivity: Utilizing 5S, like any other Lean tool, allows us to eliminate waste (Muda) in our systems and therefore provides improved productivity, higher efficiency, and increased uptime.
Boosted Morale: Implementing 5S requires not only the physical activities of the staff, but also encourages their participation in providing input and suggestions for further improvements. This involvement, along with the opportunity to work in a clean and organized environment, increases employee motivation and creates workplace ownership.
Improved Company Image: A shinning and well organized workplace does definitely generate a better image of an organization and allows the company to be presented as a showcase in the industry. This improved image will in turn result in customer satisfaction, repeat business, and growth.
In conclusion, 5S is an important Lean tool that could and should be used by everyone in the organization, from the CEO to the operator, and everywhere in the company – shop floor, office areas, backyard, and parking lot – to prepare the infrastructure for visual management, to create a safe, error-free, and productive workplace where employees enjoy working, and to generate a healthy reputation and bottom-line.
Get Kaizened is a leading company in providing lean and Kaizen training programs. 5S Training is a part of what we provide in our training courses. 5S implementation on the other hand, is one of our popular hands-on Consulting Services that have saved millions of dollars for our clients. Contact us today for more information on our consulting and training solutions.
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