Blog Archive

5s System for efficiency and effectiveness at work

5s Audit Question
What is exactly is 5s?
This question usually comes after I answer "How do I implement a Lean Manufacturing Program?"  The answer to this question is to focus on starting a successful 5s program.  Simply put, 5s is a system to organize your workplace for efficiency and effectiveness. It has five different phases: sorting, straighten or set in order, systemic cleaning, standardizing, and sustaining.
1- Sorting
The first step in your 5s Program is to sort what you need to perform your tasks away from what is not needed and is in the way. The best way to go about a successful sort program is to focus on one area of your workplace.  Clear out all the items that are not needed and dispose of them properly or recycle them.  If you are not sure if you will need that item, ask the expert for that area.  If he or she is not sure, segregate a specific area for those items away from the work space.  Leave them there for a week or so and if they are still not used then discard of them properly.
2- Set in order/Straighten
This is the second step of your program and builds off what your team achieved in the sorting phase.  The mantra of this phase is "A place for everything and everything in it's place."  There is no limit to how creative you can be in this phase.  Here are some common hacks that I have seen people successful deploy in this phase:
  • Putting tape down on the floor to mark where items and furniture belong.
  • Use a label maker to label bins or shelves to describe where items belong.
  • Put an item on the outside of the box where things are stored so you can match the item to it's home.
  • Create shadow-boards for tools that outline the shape of the tool so you can spot that one is missing and know where it belongs.
3- Shine
There's not much that you can write to teach someone how to clean.  The best advice I would give related to this phase is to think "white-glove" cleaning.  Wipe down all the horizontal surfaces for dust and grime.  If you make an effort to clean everyday, this task is not as industrious as the first time you perform a deep clean.  You may work in an environment that gets messy easily or has machinery.  When cleaning look for what may be causing the grime and determine the root case of the uncleanliness.  This can go along way in helping with a a Total Preventative Maintenance (TPM) program in your workplace.
4- Standardize
Checklists, checklists, checklists!!!  Create a checklist or to-do list to describe all of the things that need to be done on a regular basis to keep things as they should be.  Visual aids such as creating pictures of what they area should look like including where things belong can help here.  From the shop floor to the executive conference room, think of the things that need to be done to maintain a high degree of excellence in your 5S program.
Sustain
Your team has devoted a lot of effort to get things to they way they should be or heading in that direction.  In order to hold your gains you need to conduct regular 5S audits.  The  audits should not only be the front line supervisors in that area, upper management should participate to demonstrate a commitment to the program.  At one of the facilities I've worked at, the site executive team went and audited an area of the facility by random drawing at different times during the week.  Also included in the drawing were the names of the executives.  If the exec's name was drawn they could choose an area of the business they wanted the entire executive team to audit.  More often than not, this was an opportunity for the leader to showcase the gains and successes their team had accomplished in their area of the business.
Why is 5s important?
5S isn't just about phases, it's about empowering employees to control their work area and creating an environment that they want to work in everyday.  It's a program that only works with grass roots level engagement, and can never be a "flavor of the month" program. If you are committed to safety then you should be equally committed to 5s to provide your team a safe place to work.
The disciplines that your team learns from successfully implementing 5s will help enable your team to conduct kaizen events with greater frequency and greater results.  It will also enable you to see where waste is occurring and focus your kaizen in those areas
Source: e5saudit