Get the tools you need to implement lean techniques on your shop floor
Sort

Discard unused items; keep regularly used items close by

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Shine

Maintain clean work equipment and areas to eliminate sources of contamination and help identify abnormalities before they become defects

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Set in Order

Organize your workstation - clearly label everything and assign each item a spot

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Standardize

Use schedules and checklists to maintain order and ensure regular cleanup and organization

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sustain

Management helps instill discipline by sticking to schedules and processes

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5S is a five-step system that's part of lean manufacturing; the goal is to eliminate waste and enhance productivity. The steps are:

SORT
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To start out, simplify and organize by sorting all of the items in your facility. The objective of this step is to get rid of unused items, move infrequently used items into storage, and to get the most-used items stored within arm's reach. Keeping commonly used items close at hand is a great way to improve efficiency and productivity and reduce waste.

One of the most popular ways to dispose of unused items is to start a red tag campaign. Every time you run across an item you no longer use, just put a red tag on it to mark it for disposal and set it in a designated "red tag area" for removal. If it's still there after a week or so and hasn't been reclaimed, out it goes! You can also use red tag stations to keep the tags handy.

SHINE
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Next up, it's time to get equipment and work areas spick and span - they should be cleaned from top to bottom and then kept that way. Not just because it looks good, but also to eliminate contamination and to standardize the work areas. When you're working in an orderly environment, it's much easier to spot equipment malfunctions before they become problems. Not to mention, clean equipment works more efficiently with less downtime and upkeep!

Maintaining Shine should be a priority for everyone - create a regular schedule for routine cleaning and deep cleaning. Looking for ways to make the job easier? Try putting your supplies on wheels with utility carts and use janitorial carts to keep your cleaning materials convenient and mobile.

SET IN ORDER
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Once everything is sorted and clean, it's time to organize the items you need close at hand. The key to this step is making sure every item has a designated home that's marked off with tape and clearly labeled (get a quick start on this step with a 5S marking kit!)

Having a selected spot for everything helps to empower employees to take more control of their operations. Taped and labeled areas make it easy to see if things are out of place or if supplies are running low.

Not only will you want to mark workbench and pegboard areas, but there should be designated lanes and areas marked on the floor as well. It can be helpful to use a floor marking color scheme for this (i.e. yellow for aisles and work cells, orange for QA inspection.) And while you're at it, don't forget to mark the places where things don't go!

Standardize
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At this point, all of the heavy lifting is pretty much done. Now you need to figure out how to keep it clean and organized! So in this step, you'll identify ways to establish the new workplace practices as the standard and then and document and share those changes. This includes updating procedures, checklists, job aids, diagrams, etc...

There are lots of tools available to keep your new practices visible: status boards are a great way to display information and document holders help keep new procedures front and center.

SUSTAIN
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Last but not least is to Sustain. This step includes creating the discipline needed to maintain momentum. Typically, a management auditing process is put in place to keep workplace organization and cleanliness a top priority. These audits focus on proper maintenance of the routines and schedules set up in step 4. Communication boards or dry erase boards can be especially helpful at this step.

5S is a transformational process and definitely not a one-time thing. Part of sustaining includes encouraging your employees to make constant improvements to their work areas. Creating a culture of continuous improvement is central to achieving the ultimate goal: a more efficient and streamlined workplace, higher efficiency and productivity, and elimination of wasteful practices.