5S is the first step towards lean manufacturing. It is not just a tool but also a framework to be deployed for continuous improvement in productivity, quality & safety. No matter how well funded your business is or how much the market potential persists for your product, you will not achieve the desired result, if your production processes do not follow the 5S way.    

5S finds its origin in Japan and stands for the five Japanese words;  Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke. In English the translation is Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain.

Sort

Sorting through materials and keeping only the essential items needed to complete tasks. This involves assessing all the contents of a workspace and removing the unnecessary items. Only items which are to be consumed in the process need to be present at the bay.

Set in Order

All necessary items are to be organized and each item must be in its place. Arranging all items in the bay logically and ergonomically in the order of their consumption is absolutely essential as it eliminates time loss as the workers are well organised and are crystal clear in the process flow.

Shine

It involves proactive efforts to keep workplace areas clean and orderly to ensure ease in achieving the process targets. This involves cleaning and maintaining the work area, maintaining the tools and the machinery etc.

Standardize

SOPs needs to be defined and communicated to various process owners. It must focus on the what are the tasks, how to do them, who is accountable for the completion of the tasks, how much time is ideal for the task completion etc. Every employee from the CEO to the labourer must be aware of their responsibilities in the process. This SOP/process manual must be easily accessible and must be explained when 5S is implemented and to any new employee who joins after the implementation.

Sustain

The implemented system must be sustained over period any deviation must be rectified. New improved ways need to be incorporated to optimize the process. Regular audits must be conducted to ensure the system functions smoothly and there are continuous improvements in the system.

Impact Once implemented in combination with other tools of lean manufacturing, it will reduce wastes both in time and resources. In other words, the productivity goes up and cost per unit reduces which means improved profits and liquidity.