What is 5S?

5S is a lean tool used for organizing the workplace. 5S represents 5 Japanese words all starting with ‘S,’ Seiri (Sort), Seiton (Set in Order), Seiso (Shine), Seiketsu (Standardize), and Shitsuke (Sustain). It was invented in Japan to enable Just in time production. Unlike general norms, 5S has application in manufacturing as well as service industries

  1. Seiri mean Sort i.e. segregating what is needed and not needed. This is the most challenging and important step of implementing 5S as the human tendency is to preserve everything. For example, Computer Desktop has so many files that may or may not be always required, which makes it difficult to find the desired file. Similar is the case with team shared drives.
  2. Seiton means Set in order i.e. defining a place for everything and keep it in its designated location. For example in shared drives, the nomenclature for folders should be such that anyone can understand where to save a particular file.
  3. Seiso means Shine i.e. keeping everything clean. Cleaning frequency should be defined to ensure everything is cleaned regularly. For example, shared drive should clean on a regular interval to ensure non-relevant files are archived.
  4. Seiketsu mean Standardize i.e. the instruction to maintain and monitor first three steps should be clearly defined. 5S is not a one-time job; it is a regular activity. Hence once the required frequency to repeat first three steps is agreed it should be standardized. Also, it helps in sharing best practices rather than re-inventing the wheel.
  5. Shitsuke mean Sustain. It is all about building self-discipline. All these steps should be done without being told to do. The process should be set to regularly audit and monitor for all the departments
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