What is 5S?

5S is a methodology that is used in workplaces across the world. The “5S” name comes from the 5 Japanese words that make up the process. The five words are seiri, sieton, seiso, seiketus, and shitsuke. Roughly translated these words stand for sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain. They all describe ways in which you can make the most of your workplace for maximum productivity. There is an easy breakdown for each step so that you can make the most of this method in your business. Along with each step, there are certain things you can do to ensure the success of the overall framework.

First of all, there is Seiri or sort – This step is set up to help you remove unnecessary items from your work life. This is meant to help you deal with both physical distractions as well as mental ones. It is proven that if you only have what you need around you, you are bound to be more focused on the task at hand and not distracted and crowded by items in your workspace. A regular cleaning and maintenance count of things you do and do not need can help you free up extra space and get on the right path.

Next is Seiton, or set in order – This is the second step in 5S and is designed to help you organize the remaining items once you get the unnecessary ones out of the way. This will improve your workflow and maintain a safe environment. You will also ensure that everything that you do need is in an easily accessible place so that your tools will always be within arms reach. By having access to all of the necessary tools, this enables employees to get their work done quickly, and with less frustration.

Third is Seiso, which translates to shine – Being able to keep your work area clean is another important aspect to building productivity. This step should be used to organize a regular cleaning schedule. It also ensures that the place you are working in is safe and in tip-top condition. A benefit of this step is that any regular worker will be able to recognize when something is out of place or unsafe and get everything up to par in a matter of seconds. This is because they are so used to seeing it in perfect condition.

The fourth S is standardize, or seiketsu – This step involves that you make the process, up to this point, the standard for everyone who comes into the company. This small change will encourage everyone to take pride in their workplace and build a standard that everyone has to follow. You should also ensure that every station in the workplace has a clear, easy to understand the process. Having this process in place allows everyone to complete their job in less time, which helps both the company and employees learn what needs to be done on a day-to-day basis.

The final piece of the 5S puzzle is Shitsuke, or sustain – This final step also stands for “do without being told.” It adds an extra level of discipline to both old and new employees and sets a standard of excellence. Everyone knows what is expected of them, and they know that their feedback is crucial to the process. Audits are put in place during this step to ensure that the company is following all of the other steps put in place. It is a great way to make sure your company runs like a well-oiled machine. Everyone knows their place and what they need to do to help the company run at maximum efficiency.

6Sigma, Explained: 5S Framework – Beginner’s Guide , February 20th 2017

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