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What is 5S?

Sort • Set in Order • Shine • Standardize • Sustain

5S at it's core is about removing non-value added processes by developing standard methods for doing the necessary work. An effective 5S program will therefore improve efficiency, quality and employee safety. We're the experts at The 5S Store. We provide our customers with an easy to use online store for 5S supplies plus we have the visual control specialists you need for those not so obvious solutions. We pride ourselves in helping our customers find creative custom solutions as well. And, for those times where you might need more in depth 5S support, we have our 5S Virtual Coach Program. Please don't hesitate to contact us with your questions and/or 5S challenges. Afterall, that's what we're here for and we love what we do. In fact, we've created an entertaining 2 minute video to further explain everything we can do to help you. Check it out


The 5Ss

5S is based on Japanese words that begin with the letter ‘S’. The term “5S” references the five elements of this system: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain.

Sort (Seiri) – This first step is where removing all unnecessary items from the workplace is the focus. The most common and effective way of doing this is to attach 5S Red Tags to items no longer thought to be needed. Questions to be asked during the red tag event are is this needed, if it is needed, is this quantity necessary, if it is needed, does it need to be stored here? Everything that's tagged is moved to a designated Red Tag area where someone with decision making authority dispositions the material. the great benefit of an effective red tag Sort event is that it frees up space, improves workflow, saves money by finding missing tools and equipment and helps to create a safer work environment.

Virtual Coach

Set in Order (Seiton) – The second step of the 5S process focuses on efficient storage and location methods. In simplest terms “a place for everything and everything in its place”. Questions to be asked in this phase:

  1. What is needed to get the job done?
  2. Where should it be located?
  3. How many do I truly need?

To effectively set things in order you can use marking tape, labeling systems, bins, magnets, pouches, trash barrels, brooms, peg boards, clips, hangers and signs. The result of this process makes for a much more organized workplace where folks know exactly where to find what they need thus saving time and being more productive.

Shine (Seiso) – The third step focuses on cleaning up the place now that all the clutter and junk has been removed. Obviously one benefit of this step is to make the workplace cleaner and brighter where everyone will enjoy working. Another purpose is to keep everything working properly, so that it’s ready to be used when needed. Cleaning needs to become part of daily work habits which allows tools, equipment and work areas ready for use. The benefits of a clean work environment are improved morale, defects become more obvious, improves safety by removing dust, oil and dirt and increases machine maintenance as daily inspections increase. On the last point, inspection occurs as a result of cleaning. One can’t help but inspect equipment or an area that they’re cleaning.

Standardize (Seiketsu) – By implementing the fourth step of 5S, Standardize, we make sure that the first three steps are maintained. By implementing standardization, we ensure that ineffective conditions of the past don't resurface. one common solution for standardizing the process is to develop a solid 5S Audit program where expectations and responsibilities are made clear.

Sustain (Shitsuke) – The fifth step in the 5S journey is considereded by many to be the most difficult. This is the step required to make the other four steps part of your company culture of continuous improvement.

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