5S (methodology)

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5S methodology.
Tools drawer at a 5S working place.
1S – an example of red tag area.
2S – simple floor marking.
3S – cleanliness point with cleaning tools and resources.
5S resource corner at Scanfil Poland factory in Sieradz.

5S is the name of a workplace organization method that uses a list of five Japanese words: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke. Transliterated into Roman script, they all start with the letter "S".[1] The list describes how to organize a work space for efficiency and effectiveness by identifying and storing the items used, maintaining the area and items, and sustaining the new order.[2] The decision-making process usually comes from a dialogue about standardization, which builds understanding among employees of how they should do the work.

In some quarters, 5S has become 6S, the sixth element being safety.[3]

Other than a specific stand-alone methodology, 5S is frequently viewed as an element of a broader construct known as visual control,[4] visual workplace,[5] or visual factory.[6][7] Under those (and similar) terminologies, Western companies were applying underlying concepts of 5S before publication, in English, of the formal 5S methodology. For example, a workplace-organization photo from Tennant Company (a Minneapolis-based manufacturer) quite similar to the one accompanying this article appeared in a manufacturing-management book in 1986.[8]

The 5 S[edit]

There are five 5S phases: They can be translated from the Japanese as "sort", "set in order", "shine", "standardize", and "sustain". Other translations are possible.

Sort (Seiri)[edit]

  • Make work easier by eliminating obstacles.
  • Reduce chances of being disturbed with unnecessary items.
  • Prevent accumulation of unnecessary items.
  • Evaluate necessary items with regard to cost or other factors.
  • Remove all parts or tools that are not in use.
  • Segregate unwanted material from the workplace.
  • Define Red-Tag area to place unnecessary items that cannot immediately be disposed of. Dispose of these items when possible.
  • Need fully skilled supervisor for checking on a regular basis.
  • Waste removal.
  • Make clear all working floor except using material.

Set In Order (Seiton)[edit]

  • Arrange all necessary items so that they can be easily selected for use.
  • Prevent loss and waste of time by arranging work station in such a way that all tooling / equipment is in close proximity.
  • Make it easy to find and pick up necessary items.
  • Ensure first-in-first-out FIFO basis.
  • Make workflow smooth and easy.
  • All of the above work should be done on a regular basis.
  • Maintain safety.
  • Place components according to their uses, with the frequently used components being nearest to the work place.

Shine (Seiso)[edit]

  • Clean your workplace on daily basis completely or set cleaning frequency
  • Use cleaning as inspection.
  • Prevent machinery and equipment deterioration.
  • Keep workplace safe and easy to work.
  • Keep workplace clean and pleasing to work in.
  • When in place, anyone not familiar to the environment must be able to detect any problems within 50 feet in 5 secs.

Standardize (Seiketsu)[edit]

  • Standardize the best practices in the work area.
  • Maintain high standards in workplace organization at all times.
  • Maintain orderliness. Maintain everything in order and according to its standard.
  • Everything in its right place.
  • Every process has a standard.

Sustain (Shitsuke)[edit]

  • Not harmful to anyone.
  • Also translates as "do without being told".
  • Perform regular audits.
  • Training and discipline.
  • Training is goal-oriented process. Its resulting feedback is necessary monthly.
  • Self discipline
  • To maintain proper order

The Origins of 5S[edit]

The scheme "Correct Arrangement of the Tool" from a CIT instruction sheet, 1920-1924.

5S was developed in Japan and was identified as one of the techniques that enabled Just in Time manufacturing.[9]

Two major frameworks for understanding and applying 5S to business environments have arisen, one proposed by Osada, the other by Hirano.[10][11] Hirano provided a structure to improve programs with a series of identifiable steps, each building on its predecessor. As noted by John Bicheno,[12] Toyota's adoption of the Hirano approach was '4S', with Seiton and Seiso combined[verification needed].

In case of development of the Japanese system of management were used Alexey Gastev's development and the Central Institute of Labour (CIT) in Moscow.[clarification needed][13]

Variety of 5S Applications[edit]

5S methodology has expanded from manufacturing and is now being applied to a wide variety of industries including health care, education, and government. Visual management and 5S can be particularly beneficial in health care because a frantic search for supplies to treat an in-trouble patient (a chronic problem in health care) can have dire consequences.[14] Although the origins of the 5S methodology are in manufacturing, it can also be applied to knowledge economy work, with information, software, or media in the place of physical product.[15]

5S in Lean Product & Process Development[edit]

The output of engineering and design in a lean enterprise is information, the theory behind using 5S here is "Dirty, cluttered, or damaged surfaces attract the eye, which spends a fraction of a second trying to pull useful information from them every time we glance past. Old equipment hides the new equipment from the eye and forces people to ask which to use"[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "What Is 5S? - Sort, Set In Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain". 
  2. ^ "5S Comprehensive Education and Resource Center". 
  3. ^ Gapp, R., Fisher, R., Kobayashi, K. 2008. Implementing 5S within a Japanese Context: An Integrated Management System, Management Decision. 46(4): 565-579.
  4. ^ Ortiz, Chris A. and Park, Murry. 2010. Visual Controls: Applying Visual Management to the Factory. New York: Productivity Press.
  5. ^ Galsworth, Gwendolyn D. 2005. Visual Workplace: Visual Thinking. Portland, Ore: Visual-Lean Enterprise Press.
  6. ^ Greif, Michel. 1989. The Visual Factory: Building Participation through Shared Information. Cambridge, Mass.: Productivity Press.
  7. ^ Hirano, Hiroyuki, ed. 1988. JIT Factory Revolution: A Pictorial Guide to Factory Design of the Future. Cambridge, Mass.: Productivity Press.
  8. ^ Schonberger, Richard J. 1986. World Class Manufacturing: The Lessons of Simplicity Applied. New York: Free Press, p. 27.
  9. ^ Hirano, Hiroyuki. 1988. JIT Factory Revolution: A Pictorial Guide to Factory Design of the Future.
  10. ^ Hirano, Hiroyuki (1995). 5 Pillars of the Visual Workplace. Cambridge, MA: Productivity Press. ISBN 978-1-56327-047-5. 
  11. ^ Osada, Takashi (1995). The 5S’s: Five keys to a Total Quality Environment. US: Asian Productivity Organization. ISBN 9283311167. 
  12. ^ Bicheno, John. New Lean Toolbox: Towards Fast, Flexible Flow. Buckingham: PICSIE. ISBN 978-0-9541244-1-0. 
  13. ^ Managing «modernity»: work, community, and authority in late-industrializing Japan and Russia, Rudra Sil, Publisher: Ann Arbor, Mich. : University of Michigan Press, 2002.
  14. ^ Graban, Mark. 2012. Lean Hospitals: Improving Quality, Patient Safety, and Employee Engagement. Boca Raton, Fl: CRC Press.
  15. ^ "CEITON – Profile". 
  16. ^ Ward, Allen (March 2014). Lean Product and Process Development (2nd ed.). Cambridge, MA: Lean Enterprise Institute. p. 215. ISBN 978-1-934109-43-4.