The foundation for any Lean implementation in a manufacturing, warehouse or service environment is 5S Workplace Organization and Standardization. The 5S methodology was developed in Japan as part of the continuous improvement, Just-in-Time culture. One of the founders of 5S, Hiroyuki Hirano was noted as saying “Good factories (or workplaces) develop beginning with the 5S’s; bad factories (or workplaces) fall apart beginning with the 5S’s.”
The five elements or phases of the 5S implementation plan are listed below in Japanese with English translations:
- 1st “S” Seiri or Sort
- 2nd “S” Seiton or Set-In-Order
- 3rd “S” Seiso or Shine
- 4th “S” Seiketsu or Standardize
- 5th “S” Shitsuke or Sustain
In Supply Velocity’s 5S consulting, we often add a sixth “S” of Safety. Whether we are working with an insurance company, a hospital, a warehouse or a chemical plant, we want to ensure that the work environment is safe to employees, customers, suppliers and the community.
To establish the foundation and involve the entire team, we will introduce 5S through company-wide training that involves hands-on experiential learning. During the workshop we will implement 5S in specific areas of the facility as teams, in office, warehouse and production environments. This will allow each team to practice what they learn and achieve real results. We have found that this learning methodology can assist in initiating a change effect to other areas of the company and becomes contagious. Each department will see how well organized and clean a 5S environment is and they will become excited about bringing that process to their area. We also request that executive management be involved in the training and implementation to demonstrate management’s commitment to both 5S and safety.
The reasons companies decide to begin their 5S journeys are to:
- Reduce Costs
- Improve Product and Service Quality
- Eliminate Non-Valued Added activities:
- Sorting through unneeded clutter
- Searching for tools, material and information
- Prevent Accidents and Injuries
- Sharpen Workplace Appearance
- Enhance Communication
- Empower Employees
Involving everyone in the organization is critical for success of the most difficult 5S phase, sustaining the gains (the 5th S). It requires: 1) management setting a good example by picking up trash on the floor, 2) engineers returning tools they borrowed from a workstation to the correct location, and 3) all associates in a work area maintaining and improving their 5S visual controls.
Another significant benefit of 5S is that it can be easily audited and measured. Many of our clients have adopted 5S scorecards that lead to fun and productive competitions between work environments which helps make 5S part of the company culture.
Whether your firm is thinking of implementing Lean in the office or for operations, 5S is the foundation that ensures success in your continuous improvement journey.