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What is 5S & Why is it Important?

What is 5S & Why is it Important?

In today’s competitive market it’s imperative now more than ever to operate at peak efficiency with minimal interruptions in production and service. Companies must adopt Lean principles such as 5S, which focuses on the elimination of wastes, creates cost savings while maintaining a healthy safe environment for your employees.

5S is a simple method to ensure that workspaces and resources are arranged and maintained in an orderly safe manner to reduce waste. The 5S system is part of Toyota’s Lean Manufacturing methodology designed to reduce waste within a facility.

Here are the 5 Steps to Operational Stability:

Sort (Seiri): When In Doubt, Move It Out – Start by removing all items from your work area. Inspect the equipment and identify those items that are critical to the success of the function performed at the workstation. Eliminate any duplicates, unnecessary equipment, infrequently used items and trash. Identify the non-essential items as either waste or “valuable but not critical.” Store the non-critical items outside of the workstation area. This saves time, space and labor costs, while enhancing productivity.

 Set in Order (Seiton): A Place For Everything & Everything In Its Place – Whatever equipment is deemed critical to the operation must now be organized. Assign positions for all equipment, work in progress and raw materials, keeping ease of reach, identification and proximity to work surface in mind. The goal is to maximize the efficiency of the workstation layout. The most frequently used tools should be the most convenient to grab. This eliminates wasted time from excess motion and searching.

Shine (Seiso):  A Clean Workplace Enhances Quality, Safety & Pride – Keep everything clean, every day. Doing this keeps things ready to be used when needed. A clean workspace is a productive workspace, and Seiso literally means “to clean or shine.” Clean the floors, the walls and the equipment and ensure all items are restored to their designated place. Make sure the workstation is well lit. This should be a part of your daily tasks and should not be postponed until idle time is available.

 Standardize (Seiketsu): Standards Exist & Are Being Followed – Ensure conditions of the work area do not return to the original, disorganized state. Make the previous three S’s part of your standard procedures each day. Implement them with the help of signs, banners, shadow boards, tool holders, etc. Make sure all workers understand their responsibilities and are empowered to perform all of the tasks.

 Sustain (Shitsuke): Make a habit of properly maintaining correct procedures to avoid backsliding. Implementing these steps is a continuous process. It is important to ensure that they are done each day to prevent slipping into old behaviors. Commit to performing these steps every shift and make sure that any changes to your product or process are compensated for at your workstation and problems are alleviated as quickly as they are created.

With the successful reduction of wastes, productivity naturally improves, and most often companies experience up to a 60% increase in productivity. Reviewing processes and optimizing them for efficiency means you get more work done in less time and capacity can increase by 30% or higher. Being well-organized and clutter-free lowers the risks of workplace accidents and employees come to work every day with greater pride and satisfaction.

5S has been widely used in all types of organizations, from manufacturing and service to health care; from military and government to financial institutions and works well with all other strategies because it is a repeatable set of concepts that can be applied to almost any environment. The end result of a 5S implementation is also a significant reduction in the space needed to perform the work. Tools and material needed to perform the job are labeled and stored appropriately. Shelving and racks are optimized in a smaller footprint, eliminating the need to search for items. When employees have what they need, when they need it, work related stressors decrease and respect for the workplace, company and others increase.

The answer to the question – “Why Implement 5S?” is easy, you are…creating an environment where people can do their best work!

Check out our 5S Organization & Discipline Workshop to lean more.

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