Learn the 5 S's of 5S!


In the first of our Lean blog series, we discussed Lean 101 and how it can benefit a manufacturer. But what does it mean to actually apply those principles in an everyday setting? What schools of thought exist, and how do they differ from one another?

Among the most widely accepted methodologies in Lean manufacturing is 5S, a philosophy that emphasizes the idea of ownership through organization of materials and process standardization. It is most effective when applied in a systematic way and enables employees to maintain the ideal efficiency and effectiveness of their workspace.

While qualities find in 5S can be traced back to Venice shipbuilders in the 16th century, the approach we take today originated in Japan with the Toyota Production System (TPS) and Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) standards. Because of its efficiency, 5S experienced a universal boom by the 1980s, changing the state of manufacturing in the modern world and allowing an influx of goods to be produced.

The principles of 5S were formed using five Japanese terms – later translated into English – that emphasized the importance of eliminating waste. This step-by-step process is based on improving production as well as enhancing quality of work and decreasing the frequency of workplace accidents.

The phases of 5S consist of the following:

1. Sort (seiri) – Organizing materials and removal of unnecessary items (waste)
2. Straighten (seiton) – Establishing orderly workplace to prevent time-wasting and ensure smooth workflow
3. Shine (seiso) – Maintaining cleanliness to keep environments safe and functional
4. Standardize (seiketsu) – Making tasks uniform and keeping high standards
5. Sustain (shitsuke) – Implementing of effective processes, goal-oriented training, and audits

Over time, these five steps expanded into other methodologies such as 6S, 5C, and CANDO. However, the tenants of 5S remain a mainstay of Lean and continue to be applied to manufacturing around the world.

How does 5S work for a real company?
An example of a successful – and slightly modified – 5S plan can be found in our work with Vitamix, one of the leading kitchen appliance brands in the country. MAGNET growth consultants provided training on continuous improvement for management staff and employees, culminating in continuous improvement, streamlined operations, and the creation of a unique initiative known as Vitamix Lean Enterprise. Watch a quick video for details.

Want to read more like this?
We recommend “Continuous improvement part 4: methods and tools

Ready to take the next step in optimizing your company?
Let MAGNET’s experts help you! We’d be happy to hear about your company and offer our recommendations on optimizing your processes.

Contact MAGNET for a Free Consultation

Posted by Liz Fox in Lean

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