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Work Place Organisation – 5S

One of the most poorly understood and ineffectively used tools in the Lean arsenal is 5S.  It is a common misbelief that 5S is just housekeeping.

5S is a tool comprising 5 steps where the descriptor for each step starts with a letter S.  Originally, they were Japanese words which have subsequently been translated into English, again all starting with a letter S hence its name 5S.

Sort –where the Workplace is sorted and every item removed that is not required for productive work.  There are processes like red tagging which prevent the discarding of items of value to the company, but if they are not needed for productive work then they should be stored elsewhere.

Set-in Order – where all the items for productive work are stored in a location based on its frequency of use, weight etc.  This truly evokes the old saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place”.  You should be able to find any item, which could be an office file, invoice etc. within 2 minutes or less.    Imagine how much time would be saved in your organisation if no one was wondering around asking people “have you seen …. ”?, “I can’t find ….”.   Everything anyone needed is always available and in its correct location. Utopia!

Shine – where everything is cleaned and made spick and span.  The reason for this is to permit those early warning signs of failure to be obvious, so corrective action can be taken before the failure occurs.

Standardise – where processes are standardised and documented so they become the only way work is conducted.  This is important as often there are some really good productivity gains from the first 3 S’s but these are not maintained over time because they are not embedded in how work is actually performed.

Sustain – the establishment of audits so standards don’t slip and it provides leadership with an opportunity to coach and establish those benchmarks, constantly lifting the bar.

If you believe your workplace would benefit from 5S and you want to eliminate waiting and searching wastes from within your organisation, contact the Business Advisors at Workplace Partners on 1300 116 400.  They’re passionate about workplace organisation and the elimination of waste!

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