5S is a Lean tool that helps in workplace organization. The following is the list of five Japanese words and their translation in English.
(Seiri) Sorting and prioritizing: Going through all the tools, materials, etc., in the work area and keeping only the essential items. Everything else is stored or discarded.
(Seiton) Straighten or set in order: Focuses on efficiency, by arranging the tools, equipment, visual dashboards and parts in a manner that promotes workflow. For everything there should be place and everything should be in its place.
(Seisō) Shining or cleanliness: Systematic cleaning, or the need to keep the workplace clean as well as neat. At the end of each shift, the work area is cleaned up and everything is restored to its place.
(Seiketsu) Standardizing: Aligning work practices, or operating in a consistent and consistent fashion. Everyone knows exactly what his or her responsibilities are to keep above the previous three S’s.
(Shitsuke) Sustaining the discipline: Maintaining and reviewing standards. Once the previous four S’s have been established, they become the new way to operate.
Initially, 5S had significance in the manufacturing arena, but it has expanded into all areas of industries and operations.
Consider the following example of an implementation of 5S that reduced the time to generate a report from three hours to ten minutes.
S1 – Sorting of data: A finance team previously generated a report that pulled data from 2010 through the current date. The team, however, only required the data for the last year to do their analysis. Logic used to pull information was modified and reduced report-generation time.
S2 – Set in order: The team needed data in a particular order while performing analysis so the team set the columns in that particular order, saving analysis time.
S3 – Shine: The entire report was cleaned. Cells and data columns that were not required were removed. This sped up the report generation time.
S4 – Standardize: A prior report was run during the day; it used to take a significant amount of time of both an employee and machine. A consistent process was created around the time of report generation. Every morning before the shift starts, one person will run the report, which will take ten minutes.
S5 – Sustain: All of the activities described in the previous 4 S’s were sustained for the last three months and now this process is business as usual for the team.