The 5S process gets business done beautifully. Recently on a manufacturing plant visit I noticed that all the tools in the facility were clearly marked and the flow of product and people was highly organized. I praised them and the manager and his assistant manager both replied that this excellence was due to the 5S process. Being unfamiliar with this method of lean manufacturing meant there was investigation needed.
The 5S Process is generally credited to the Toyota company who applied it to auto making. Toyota believes this is the way to lean manufacturing. The goal is to reduce or eliminate waste. With every action and process being directly related to the production of product waste of time and energy are eradicated.
The tool room in is particular plant was immaculate. Every inch of the shop and the store room was in order down to the individually outlined places for the tools. The files of the tool manager were kept better than most accountants offices. The added benefit of this organization was that the other managers respected the space within the shop. The 5S Process was the boss and everyone else were the employees.
The following information comes from the website Process Improvement Japan
What is 5s?
From the first letter of 5 words in Japanese which mean orderliness (seiri), neatness (seiton),shine (seiso), cleanliness (seiketsu) and discipline (shitsuke). In English, lean 5s is commonly referred to as:
2. Set in Order
5. Sustain (maintain the discipline to continue with the process)
Lean Manufacturing Tools explains the 5S Process this way.
The five steps of 5S are;
Seiri (Sort, Clearing, Classify) to remove all of the clutter from the work place
Seiton (Straighten, Simplify, Set in order, Configure) to organize all tools, materials and equipment in an efficient and ergonomic manner.
Seiso (Sweep, shine, Scrub, Clean and Check) to clean up the entire area removing all dirt.
Seiketsu (Standardize, stabilize, Conformity) to ensure standard ways of working for the first three stages.
Shitsuke (Sustain, self discipline, custom and practice) to ensure that 5S principles are part of the culture of the business