Is your workplace helping you to perform?

5S is a simple approach to helping your business become more organised, it is also known as ‘putting your house in order’.

This approach is often seen as a stepping stone into lean, but the actual method of implementation is engaging with the work force and therefore not something to be taken lightly.

Do you like working in a messy place?

When you improve the way your workplace is organised you are likely to see the following benefits:

  • Machines will be more productive due to the improved maintenance.
  • Less time will be wasted looking for items or information, the job will be stalled less often.
  • Big clear ups (especially when important visitors are due on site) can be minimised, so more time can be spent delivering your products and services.
  • Standards of working are set and built upon, allowing you to do a better job with less resources.
  • Mistakes in the workplace can reduce, through the simple notion that the workforce are starting to engage in a programme of continuous improvement.
  • There are many benefits to 5S, all of which can help your business to become more efficient and better able to deliver on time.

The 5S steps

The steps for implementing 5S are very simple, but it can require high levels of discipline to maintain the benefits.

In brief, the five steps are:

1. Sort

Remove all unnecessary clutter and debris from the working area. Red tag items any items that you are unsure about keeping, give them a shelf life and get rid of them if no-one claims them.

2. Set In Order

Put all of the remaining items into their most appropriate locations, ideally to minimise the amount of movement required to do the job. Everything has a place and everything is in its place.

3. Shine

Tidy up and clean the work area to a standard that would be acceptable should a customer arrive for a spot visit. Beware of over cleaning (it has to be easily maintained)!

4. Standards

Develop a set of standards so that everyone knows what is expected with regards to Sort, Set and Shine.

5. Sustain

Maintain and develop the habits required to keep the benefits gained from doing the first four stages.

Top Tips

  • Don’t keep the 5S approach to yourself. Get the input of others to work out what the best way forward is for your business.
  • Don’t forget maintenance. As you develop routines of working you have the ideal opportunity to include additional tasks.
  • Use something simple like a kamishibai board to keep this in place once you have been through the first three steps (Sort, Set and Shine).
  • Include the office. Paperbased documents, filing cabinets and computer directories are all great places to include when implementing 5S.
  • Create a simple measurement tool to see if your working areas are living up to the standards of 5S. Get the staff involved at all levels to keep an eye on what is happening.

What’s next?

And, if you want some help to put this into practice for your business then drop me a line using the main contact form.

Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who consults with businesses to improve their on time delivery performance, ERP system performance and deploy Kaizen / Lean production methods. Giles is also the author of 'What Does Good Look Like?'.