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As a leader, you’re always looking for new ways to increase productivity in your company. It can get complicated when we try to define what productive means. The definition of productive can vary from person to person. But, the company’s perspective is usually pretty clear. Productivity is the economic measure of output per unit of input.

In layman’s terms—to be productive we must accomplish more by doing less.

For most production managers, productivity is more than numbers on a spreadsheet. You tend to look at productivity from a holistic viewpoint. You look for:

  • Improved accuracy
  • Increased efficiency
  • Stronger company foundation
  • Greater economic success
  • Happier and less stressed staff
  • Better quality in the products and services you provide to your customers

Workplace stress is a major contributor to worker health and job dissatisfaction. So, productivity also means creating a healthier work environment. To be successful over the long term, the health and wellbeing of employees must come first.

Here’s some food for thought. Reports show that employees that are stressed out experience decreased productivity and engagement. It makes sense that stress would have a negative impact on a worker’s ability to perform their job effectively. But, how can you improve your workplace so that doesn’t happen? What can you do to create a more efficient workplace?

The answer lies in implementing an effective and sustainable 5S process.


What is 5S?

There are systems that can transform a workplace from one of disorder and clutter to an organized and productive one. 5S is one of those systems. 5S is workplace organization designed to improve worker safety, productivity, quality and efficiency.  And it accomplishes this by removing what’s called the 7 Wastes.

Do you recognize any of these 7 Wastes in your workplace?

  1. Defects: These are products or services that deviate from customer specifications. Most people only think of the scrap cost associated with a defect. The costs of problem solving, materials, labor hours, paperwork and decreased customer retention are much higher than the scrapped item.
  2. Inventory: This is the amount of raw materials, work in progress or finished goods that a company is holding. Each piece of inventory being carries a cost and is likely gathering interest. There are additional costs from overproduction, storage, transportation costs, damage, loss and paperwork.
  3. Motion: Just because an employee is moving doesn’t mean they’re working. Think of all the wasteful steps in a current process in your facility. Are employees forced to take unnecessary steps to perform their job function? Employees that exert more energy on non-value added processes like lifting, retrieving or searching produce less. They’re also at higher risk of injuries.
  4. Non-Value Added Processes: Are employees spending time and energy doing work that isn’t part of their job? For example, are they sanding or polishing areas that aren’t visible in its final form? Not only does that cost time and labor, but there’s also increased material and equipment usage. The more a company uses equipment, the more costs are associated with maintenance, service, repair and replacement.
  5. Overproduction: This is often considered the worst of the seven wastes. Producing products or services too fast or too often has its own set of problems. Overproduction leads to unreliable processes, unbalanced work cells and inaccurate predictions of future orders. Overproduction is also responsible for holding up capital in raw materials, stocked items and finished goods. As a rule of thumb, companies should avoid overproduction by balancing supply to demand.
  6. Transportation: The cost of transportation in manufacturing is always a loss to the bottom line. There’s a reason why many suppliers are within close proximity to their plants. By limiting transportation distances, companies can minimize the costs of overproduction, transport, storage, damage, loss and material handling fees.
  7. Waiting: How often do you notice employees standing around? Are they waiting for a previous step in the process to be completed? Are they waiting for parts, supplies or products to arrive? Are they waiting for clear instructions on their next step? The cost of waiting is huge and you can never recover those costs. There are ways to reduce waiting costs. For example, you can implement standard operating procedures (SOP). SOPs ensure clear communication, improve time management and minimize transport between work cells.


By removing waste and developing standardized processes, you can achieve a clean and organized workplace. 5S assesses everything in the current workplace. Then, removes what’s unnecessary and performs ongoing housekeeping tasks. Finally, 5S provides storage solutions that allow workers to be more productive and less stressed.

At The 5S Store, it’s more than just changing processes. It’s a way of changing behaviors for the better. The 5S Store believes that the key to productivity and success is to enable employees to have a personal stake in their job. To do that, employees must have ownership over their positions. Through clear direction, improved habits and standardized practices, employees can become more confident in their abilities. And that confidence inspires problem solving and attention to detail that may have been lacking before.


What are the origins of 5S in the workplace?

5S was developed in Japan as part of the Toyota Production System manufacturing method. On a visit to the U.S., three representatives from Toyota were observing the processes of two major companies— Ford Motor Company and Piggly Wiggly. The enormity of the operations impressed them. They were surprised at the amount of waste that was occurring at Ford, however, they noticed wasted steps that had been leading to overproduction, layoffs and rehires.

At Piggly Wiggly, they were very impressed with their inventory management system. They noticed that the company ordered only what was needed (Just in Time Inventory) rather than storing excess items.  

So, they gathered information from the two companies and returned home. They began to analyze the waste that existed in their own plants. They viewed their labor costs, inventory management and lost production hours. They examined their profit margins and total production costs. Then, they created a system that addressed waste through the use of repeatable and replicable processes. That is when 5S began.

The Phases of the 5S System:

  • Sort (Seiri): This first step removes all unnecessary items from the workplace. The most common and effective way to do this is with red tags. The reviewer will assess the workplace and attach 5S Red Tags to items that aren’t needed. This part of the process eliminates clutter and frees up space.
  • Set in Order (Seiton): After red tagging certain items, you then find efficient storage solutions. A place for everything and everything in its place. The Set in Order phase ensures all members of the team know exactly where and how specific items are stored.

Questions to ask during this phase:

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

Organizational systems include:

  • Bins
  • Clips
  • Labels
  • 5S floor tape
  • Magnetic clipboards
  • Peg Boards
  • Pouches
  • 5S Shadow boards
  • Signs
  • Trash barrels
  • Visual management


  • Shine (Seiso): The Shine phase focuses on cleaning the workplace. This results in a cleaner and brighter workplace. Now, defects become more obvious. And, areas that are in need of repair can receive much needed service and maintenance.

    Employees are also motivated to be more productive in cleaner workspaces. Who wants to work in a dirty area? Workplace cleanliness is often linked to increased morale and job satisfaction.

    By developing regular cleaning habits, you can be sure that every work area is ready for use. Tools and equipment are where they belong. This cuts down on time searching or preparing equipment for use. The cleaning phase also makes non-conformance of 5S standards much more visible.


  • Standardize (Seiketsu): By implementing the fourth step of 5S, you’re able to maintain the first three steps. Now you can communicate the procedures, responsibilities and expectations to your team. By standardizing procedures, you ensure that the desired procedure changes remain in place.  What’s more, you can make sure ineffective conditions of the past don’t resurface.

  • Sustain (Shitsuke): Without proper support, the Sustain phase is often the hardest part of the 5S system. Workspaces have been cleared of clutter. They are cleaned and procedures are clearly set in place. The company must now sustain these changes. It must become part of the company culture to be effective.

    Routine inspections are absolutely necessary. Inspections make sure the company doesn’t fall into old habits and routines. There’s another important aspect of 5S. It’s important to remain flexible and adopt new procedures as your company’s needs change.


Who can benefit from using the 5S system?

5S can be used in any workplace and in any industry. It’s effective in industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, government and service industries. But, production and logistic managers can use the 5S system in a wide array of industries.


  • Automobile manufacturing
  • Aerospace
  • Foundries
  • Parts manufacturing

Service Industries:

  • Construction
  • Plumbing
  • Auto mechanic
  • Body shops


  • Public service
  • Transportation


  • Medical device manufacturing
  • Hospitals

5S can improve worker safety, productivity, quality and efficiency in any workplace.

The Beginnings of The 5S Store

Most production managers are aware they need 5S in their facilities. They understand the value of using lean management tools in the workplace. They know the benefits of a 5S system. But, many fail when they try to implement it on their own. The problem is the lack of support available to them. Most production managers are told to use 5S. But, they are never shown how.

David Visco understands this. He spent many years in warehousing and manufacturing implementing process improvements. He recalls the hours spent worrying and stressing over 5S. He remembers feeling frustrated and overwhelmed every time he would try to find answers. Answers just didn’t exist.

Swept up by the entrepreneurial spirit, David and his wife Barbara set out to change that. They were committed to creating a program that helped production managers implement 5S in their workplaces.

They studied leadership, productivity, lean manufacturing, team building, engagement and sustainment of process improvements. David became the 5S expert. He used his experience in warehousing and medical device manufacturing to develop actionable plans for production managers. They’ve always been passionate about helping others improve their processes. So, they created their own online store for a niche market that was vastly underserved.

The 5S Store was born. Now, there’s no need to stress about finding the 5S solutions and products that meet your needs. The 5S Store has all the products you need for successful 5S process improvement. Not only that, they have the expert advice and support you’ve been looking for. With over 100 vendors in their network, they can help you find the solutions you need. And, they can help you find it at the right price. David says he simply wants to make the work of production managers easier through methods that make sense.

Why David is the expert?

Over the years, David and The 5S Store team has earned the trust and respect of companies nationwide. They have become the go-to source for all things 5S.

Their inventory includes:

  • 5S products
  • Kits
  • Material handling
  • Posters
  • Tool control
  • Total productive maintenance
  • Training materials
  • Visual management and much more!

David’s specialties include inventory control, lean manufacturing, Warehouse and Stockroom design, 5S and visual controls.

David remains involved in the manufacturing space and has been a volunteer with the Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME) since 2008. He’s also the President of the Northeast Region of AME. David’s commitments to helping people understand 5S led him to pen the book 5S Made Easy, A Step-by-Step Guide to Implementing and Sustaining 5S.

David and The 5S Store team work closely with their customers to provide them with solutions to their biggest organizational challenges. Whether you simply want to order products or you need an onsite assessment, they have the tools you need for success.

They offer consulting services that include:

  • Assessments
  • Cell design
  • Kaizen events
  • On-site training
  • Production work flow improvements
  • Stockroom design and much more!


Learn more about our services

With The 5S Store, you know you’re getting the most out of your management strategy. With over 100 years of combined experience, The 5S Store has grown to be the leading provider of 5S Visual Management supplies and support.

Let the 5S team help you improve the profitability, productivity, quality and efficiency of your business. Everything 5S. Answers Included.

The 5S Store: They give their customers one less thing to worry about.

Mi9 Retail