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Introduction to the 5S Concept in a Work Environment
Published By joeldgreat on 2011-05-04 274 Views

The 5S framework was originally developed by just-in-time expert and international consultant Hiroyuki Hirano. The 5S framework is an extension of Hirano's earlier works on just-in-time production systems.

In general, the 5S approach includes the controls the work floor conditions rather than the worker's behavior. It is relatively inexpensive for the company to implement. It makes the worker's job easier and safer. It promotes daily activity for continuous improvement. It fosters efficiency and productivity while improving work flow. It encourages a proactive approach that prevents problems and waste before they occur. It provides a practical method for dealing with the real problems that workers face every day. And it fits with a facility's other efforts, such as total preventive maintenance, just-in-time manufacturing, pollution prevention, safety initiatives, and lean manufacturing efforts.


The first step of the "5S" process, Seiri, refers to the act of throwing away all unwanted, unnecessary, and unrelated materials in the workplace. People involved in Seiri must not feel sorry about having to throw away things. The idea is to ensure that everything left in the workplace is related to work. Even the number of necessary items in the workplace must be kept to its absolute minimum.

There are two main objectives of Seiri; first is the simplification of tasks and effective use of space.

In performing Seiri, this simple guideline is a must:

1. Separate needed items from unneeded items.
2. Remove unneeded items from working areas.
3. Discard the items never used.
4. Store items not Item not needed now.
5. Remove all excess items from working areas, including work pieces, supplies, personal items, tools, instruments, and equipment.
6. Use red tag to get rid of unneeded items.
7. Store items needed by most people in a common storage area.
8. Store items only needed by each individual in his/her own working area.
9. Organize working / storage area.


Seiton, or orderliness, is all about efficiency. This step consists of putting everything in an assigned place so that it can be accessed or retrieved quickly, as well as returned in that same place quickly. If everyone has quick access to an item or materials, work flow becomes efficient, and the worker becomes productive. Every single item must be allocated its own place for safekeeping, and each location must be labeled for easy identification of what it's for.

Its objective includes; the needed items can be easily found, stored and retrieved, supports efficiency and productivity, First-in first-out (FIFO), and save space and time.

In performing Seiton, follow these guidelines:

1. A place for everything and everything in its place.
2. Place tools and instructional manual close to the point of use.
3. Store similar items together. Different items in separate rows.
4. Don't stack items together. Use rack or shelf if possible.
5. Use small bins to organize small items.
6. Use color for quickly identifying items.
7. Clearly label each item and its storage areas (lead to visibility).
8. Use see-through cover or door for visibility.
9. Use special designed cart to organize tools, jigs, measuring devices, etc., that are needed for each particular machine.


Seiso, the third step in "5S", says that 'everyone is a janitor.' Seiso consists of cleaning up the workplace and giving it a 'shine'. Cleaning must be done by everyone in the organization, from operators to managers. It would be a good idea to have every area of the workplace assigned to a person or group of persons for cleaning. Seiso is not just cleaning, but a whole attitude that includes ensuring everything is in perfect condition. Everyone should see the 'workplace' through the eyes of a visitor - always thinking if it is clean enough to make a good impression.

Its objective includes; cleanliness ensures a more comfortable and safe working place, cleanliness will lead to visibility so as to reduce search time and cleanliness ensures a higher quality of work and products.

Follow these guidelines in performing Seiso:

1. Use dust collecting covers or devices to prevent possible dirt or reduce the amount of dirt.
2. Investigating the causes of dirtiness and implement a plan to eliminate the sources of dirt.
3. Cover around cords, legs of machines and tables such that dirt can be easily and quickly removed.
4. Operators clean their own equipment and working area and perform basic preventive maintenance.
5. Keep everything clean for a constant state of readiness.


The fourth step of "5S", or seiketsu, more or less translates to 'standardized clean-up'. It consists of defining the standards by which personnel must measure and maintain 'cleanliness'. Seiketsu encompasses both personal and environmental cleanliness. Personnel must therefore practice 'seiketsu' starting with their personal tidiness. Visual management is an important ingredient of seiketsu. Color-coding and standardized coloration of surroundings are used for easier visual identification of anomalies in the surroundings. Personnel are trained to detect abnormalities using their five senses and to correct such abnormalities immediately.

The guidelines include:

1. Removing used, broken, or surplus items from the work area
2. Making safety a prime requirement by paying attention to noise, fumes, lighting, cables, spills, and other aspects of the workplace environment
3. Checking that items are where they should be
4. Listening to the "voice" of the process and being alert to things such as unusual noises
5. Ensuring that there is a place for everything and that everything is in its place
6. Wearing safe working apparel and using safe equipment
7. Minimizing all waste and the use of valuable resources such as oil, air, steam, water, and electricity


The last step of "5S", Shitsuke, means 'Discipline.' It denotes commitment to maintain orderliness and to practice the first 4 S as a way of life. The emphasis of shitsuke is elimination of bad habits and constant practice of good ones. Once true shitsuke is achieved, personnel voluntarily observe cleanliness and orderliness at all times, without having to be reminded by management.
The characteristic of 5S tends to overlap significantly rather than cover very different subjects. Rather than worry about what fits into Seiri and what fits into Seiton, use them to reinforce each other and implement the whole thing.

And lastly, without 5S, you get..3K

- kiken, meaning dangerous.
- kitanai meaning dirty.
-  kitsui meaning stressful .

note: originally posted at Exposeknowledge.com under the same author.

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