Simplified 5S: What is it & why is it important?

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What is 5S?

5S is a lean manufacturing approach to “A place for everything, and everything in its place” based on the Toyota Production System.

Quality management has compiled definitions from a variety of sources worth referencing here:

1. 5S definition of

Sort, straighten, shine, standardize, sustain: a workplace discipline used to ensure reliable work practices and a clean working environment, now used in the West but originally from Japan.

2. 5S definition of

Seiri (sort), Seiton (set in order), Seiso (shine), Seiketsu (standardize), Shitsuke (sustain); application in manufacturing, in office.

3. 5S definition of

5S is a housekeeping methodology for the shop floor. There are five rules of housekeeping for a lean environment and they help to expose waste and support the discipline needed to implement the Toyota Production System.

4. 5S definition of

(Sort, Shine, Set in Order, Standardize, and Sustain) A method of creating a clean and orderly workplace that exposes waste and errors.

This site also offers an excellent 5S checklist.

Examples of waste to be identified and eliminated according to an article written by Brice Alvord include:

  • Overproduction – producing over customer requirements
  • Inventory – holding or purchasing excessive materials
  • Transportation – unnecessary handling
  • Waiting – time delays or idle time
  • Motion – actions of people that do not add value
  • Over-processing – unnecessary processing steps
  • Correction – producing scrap or parts that require rework
  • Not using human resources – not implementing the ideas / suggestions of employees.
  • There are many impediments to the implementation of lean manufacturing and especially to proper use of 5S principles and practices:
  • Incorrect plant performance measures
  • Wrong focus – too much attention to results, not enough on improving the processes
  • Lack of confidence in worker’s abilities to recognize and resolve problems;
  • Unwillingness to invest time and resources into correctly implementing 5S
  • Failure to recognize their survival obligation to all stake holders and that change is the key survival.

Why is 5S important?

Industrial Safety Solutions identifies this best:

If you want to understand why 5s is important, you must first understand its benefits. 5s, or any lean system, helps to eliminate waste, streamline production, and optimize efficiencies. When you adopt 5s thinking, you make a commitment to put safety, organization and effectiveness ahead of production deadlines, profits and output. The end result is always an increase in overall success, though growing pains will occur as the processes are implemented.

The key benefits of 5S include:

  • Less Waste (Improved Efficiency)
  • Reduced Space Used For Storage
  • Improved Maintenance
  • Improved Safety
  • Better, More Committed Employees
  • Improved Quality

What are the challenges?

There are several challenges to implementing and sustaining 5S.  Most agree that starting small and maintaining top management support throughout is key.  Ensuring that employees have the knowledge and resources required also contributes to the overall success of any 5S initiative.

Contact us for more information regarding implementing or improving 5s in your facility!

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