What Is 5S?

5S is a systematic form of visual management utilizing everything from floor tape to operations manuals. It is not just about cleanliness or organization; it is also about maximizing efficiency and profit. 5S is a framework that emphasizes the use of a specific mindset and tools to create efficiency and value. It involves observing, analyzing, collaborating, and searching for waste and also involves the practice of removing waste.

5S includes five terms that all start with the letter “S.”

What Does 5S Stand For?

1. Seiri (整理Tidiness), which means: Sort

This first S of the 5S methodology relates to tidiness. All materials, including equipment, tools and supplies, and work-related objects, should be neatly arranged and all unnecessary objects should be removed. This step reduces clutter and makes the work environment tidy so that it is easy to find resources that are needed to do the work at hand.

2. Seiton (整頓Orderliness), which means: Set in order

The second S relates to orderliness. All materials, including equipment, tools and supplies, and work-related objects should be placed at optimal locations for ease of access. The objective is to be able to lay your hands on the item you need quickly and with ease. This also frees up space and eliminates clutter. It also aids in accident prevention by removing unnecessary materials that may be an obstacle in the work process.

 3. Seiso (清掃Cleanliness), which means: Shine

The third S relates to cleanliness. All tools, equipment, and machinery must be cleaned regularly so that they are ready for use. The objective here is to make the work environment as safe as possible. There should be no dirt, spills, or detritus on surfaces. The work environment should be free of waste, and the spaces and places in which workers operate should promote and support productivity.

4. Seiketsu (清潔standardization), which means: Standardize

The fourth S relates to standardization. The processes of sorting, order, and cleanliness should be standardized and implemented across all offices and branches of operation. The objective is for all aspects and branches of operation to consistently gain the benefits of practicing seiri, seiton, and seiso.

5. Shitsuke (躾Discipline) which means: Sustain or Self-discipline

The fifth S relates to discipline. The business or organization has the ability and training to continuously and consistently practice the 5S system. The adherence to the processes established will always bring new efficiencies and maintain previous gains. The objective here is to maximize potential by using the 5S system so that all obstacles to productivity are removed.

Benefits of a 5S Program

Because 5S focuses on improving a workplace, and different workplaces may have little in common, it can be hard to predict the exact results of using the program. However, some benefits are almost always found:

A. Better time usage 

– Getting rid of unwanted materials and organizing the important tools and supplies will eliminate clutter and confusion. Workers spend less time finding and retrieving what they need, and can be more productive instead.

B. Less wasted space

– Eliminating unnecessary material stockpiles and consolidating tool storage will clear up room for more useful applications. Every square foot of floor space has a cost, and getting the most out of that investment will maximize your facility’s profitability.

C. Reduced injury rates

– Organizing work areas for efficiency and ease of use will reduce the movements needed for workers to do their jobs. Removing clutter and routinely cleaning up spills will eliminate trip hazards. As a result, workers will experience less fatigue and fewer injuries.

D. Reduced equipment downtime

– When tools and equipment are kept clean, routinely inspected, and used in a standardized way, preventative maintenance is much easier, and major failures can often be prevented entirely.

E. Improved consistency and quality

– Standardizing work processes will reduce variations and mistakes. By eliminating faults and failures, overall productivity can be dramatically improved.

F. Heightened employee morale

– When 5S principles are used effectively, workers see that their input is valued, and their performance is recognized. This creates an environment where workers can feel pride in their work, and take an interest in improving their company.

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