5S is a Lean tool authored by Hiroyuki Hirano that is foundational to any facility to help support workflow. It helps support every facet in the production process by creating an orderly and consistent work environment. Just as the name of it sounds, 5S, there are five words that start with the letter ‘s’ and each word describes the task to be completed. In this article we will go through each word and describe how it reduces waste.
Seiri (Say-re)(Separate or sort)
During this first stage of 5S, essential items are separated from unessential items. A rule of thumb could be that essential items are used frequently (on a cyclical basis), and unessential items are used occasionally (on a non-cyclical basis). What this does is remove any clutter present at the work area that would create an uneven workspace and over burden the operator. This stage is the most important because each stage after this one responds to the changes made. 5S is about having a healthy motion economy an
Seiton (Say-tun)(Set in order, simplify the arrangement)
In stage two of 5S, after the items are sorted, they are arranged in an order that is ergonomically productive and safe. Each item has their own designated spot that helps the operator develop muscle memory when grabbing for the required item. That is, an operator should be able to memorize where everything is once a qualified and thoroughly experienced operator. An operator who is acclimated to their workspace becomes more fluid and confident in their work. For example, a frequently used item should within an arm length’s grasp or equipped to the operator instead of placed on the back end of a table that requires walking to get there.
Seiso(Say-so) (Shine, sweep, cleanliness)
In stage three of 5S, cleaning is performed for the work area. This is a daily task for the operator(s) who run the work area. At the end of the workday, the work area should be cleaned up and restored to its assigned order. Tools or items that are used to perform work are to be cleaned thoroughly to be ready for use for the next operator or tomorrow’s shift. This process allows for any broken or malfunctioning items to be identified as well as any unsafe working conditions. This is not a janitorial task but an operator task so appropriate supplies must be present for use. An incentive to encourage this is by recognizing the work area that is consistently compliant with the company’s standard and reward them. The inspector should be a different person every number of inspections as this will avoid any potential contention or dislike on the production team.
Seiketsu (Say-ket-sue) (Standardize)
In stage four of 5S, after the work area is polished and refined into optimal working conditions, a picture is literally taken of the work area. What this does is provide a measurable standard for operators to understand about how their work area should look. It shows the importance of the first three stages and why they need to be repeated on a regular basis. This standard is included on operator instruction sheets and job descriptions.
Shitsuke (Sh-sue-kay) (Sustain, self-discipline)
In the fifth and final stage of 5S, effort is the key for successful 5S implementation. If no effort is exerted during this implementation, the work area will return to its former level of disorganization. Operators are to develop habits of conducting 5S procedures, thus it is imperative for managers to participate because leading by example is a great way to create an organizational culture founded on Lean principles. Educating the production team is important so they know what they are doing matters in the bigger picture of the business.
5S appears like micro-management at first, but it is designed to make the job easier. The hardest part is making the initial change, but with effort, it can be done and will pay off on the macro level. Money will be saved, work culture will be improved, productivity will increase, and waste will be eliminated. Your company can take preliminary steps for 5S by conducting observations of the current conditions at a given work area and begin to formulate a plan to execute.
The following resource were used to write this article:
Lean Six Sigma – Process Improvement Tools and Techniques by Donna C.S. Summers
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