Where the method comes from

The use of this tool was developed in 1972 by Henry Ford as part of the program: "Cleaning up, Arranging, Neatness, Discipline and Ongoing improvment". It was then adopted by Hiroyuki Hirano in 1980 under the name 5S.

This is central

A clean and tidy working environment allows you to think clearly. No time is wasted searching for things. In a confusing environment, safety risks can arise if equipment is not stored properly, such as chemicals or heavy loads. Clutter also prevents access to possible defects or makes it more difficult to perform tasks.
Saving time in searching allows employees to focus more on the really important things, such as continuously improving the workplace and preventing waste (see method 7 wastes).
This method is one of the important elements for increasing productivity and improving safety at work (safety and ergonomics).

This is the procedure

The 5S method consists of 5 elements:

Seiri — Sort out: determine what is needed and what can be thrown away
Seito — Organising: putting things in their place
Seiso — Clean: clean the site and keep it in good condition
Seiketsu — Standardization: maintain and control compliance with the first 3S
Shitsuke — Strictness: making the system a habit

1. Seiri - Sorting out

This first step gets rid of everything that clutters up the workstation.
The items in the workplace are sorted into 4 categories:

  • Keep: apply additional 3S (organize, clean and standardize)
  • Removal: dispose of or sell according to standard requirements
  • Evaluate: Put the item aside and after a certain time evaluate whether it is worth keeping it. Mark the object with a red label, for example.
  • Storage: rarely used but useful - these items are kept in a clearly identified place.

Go back to the causes that led to the overload and fix them to avoid being in the same situation in the near future.

Useful floor space is saved; workflow is improved; inventory cost of unnecessary items is reduced; workstations are continuously improved.

2. Seiton - Organise

The objects stored in the workspace are organised as efficiently as possible, taking into account quality, safety and ergonomics. The location of the objects/machines is chosen taking into account their use in order to reduce waste as much as possible (loss of time, unnecessary movements, cf. method 7 wastes) and according to ergonomic criteria to ensure the safety of employees.

The objects are stored clearly so that everyone can see at a glance where the object is located and if anything is missing: "one place for everything and everything in its place" . For example: objects are hung in a place marked with the shape of the object; shapes with the shape of the object, colour codes: the objective is to make the invisible visible.

It is up to the employee to imagine solutions for his workplace that suit him.

Advantage :
No time wasted searching for objects; fewer unnecessary movements; safer working environment.

3. Seiso - Clean

The aim of this element is to maintain a clean environment.
The workplace is thoroughly cleaned: waste, foreign bodies and dirt are removed.
Investigate the origin of the dirt, set cleaning priorities based on the degree of dirt, study the causes of the dirt in detail, establish action plans to deal with the dirt and implement them.
In order to prevent future problems, it is important to identify and resolve the causes that led to this situation.
Look for a visual system to make possible defects (e.g. oil leaks) visible.

Then carry out regular maintenance on a fixed basis instead of waiting until the workplace is dirty. Work instructions for cleaning the workplace are clearly visible on site.

Advantage :
The workplace is clean, the life of the equipment is extended, the number of breakdowns is reduced and accidents are avoided.

4. Seiketsu - Standardization

This element consists of maintaining and monitoring compliance with the first 3S. This is an important step that will ensure the sustainability of the 5S system.
Establishing a system that allows the rapid detection of anomalies through adequate reporting to facilitate control: making the invisible visible. For example: alarm signals, congestion indicators, machine names, colour codes, floor markings, reminders of safety instructions or labels, etc.

It is also important to set up a fixed system that can be understood by everyone to ensure that the measures are properly implemented (e.g. timetables for what needs to be done, when and by whom; checklists).

Advantage :
The activities are simplified, errors are avoided.

5. Shitzuke - Rigour

Rigour is about acquiring the ability to do things the way they need to be done.
Each employee is responsible for systematically identifying the causes of any breach of the 5S principles and for correcting the situation.
It is important for the sustainability of the 5S system that managers are involved and ask constructive, critical questions during their visits to the workplaces. Make sure that employees have time for the 5S system.

Always listen to employee feedback on the improvements identified with 5S. The system is designed for them. It is therefore important to respond to the wishes and needs of the employees, otherwise the system will be undermined.

Advantage :
Creates a healthy atmosphere and a good workplace; continuous improvement of workplaces; involvement of employees.

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