The 5S system can be defined as a systematic form and methodology of visual management utilizing everything from the floor tape to operations manuals during the manufacturing process in the firm. It is not just about cleanliness or organization in the process but also about maximizing the efficiency of work and the profit ratio.
The 5S System framework emphasizes the use of a specific mindset and tools to create efficiency and value in the organization. It encompasses observing, analyzing, collaborating, and searching for waste in the process and also comprises of the practice to remove the waste.
The 5S System Explained
The 5S System is a standardized process when properly implemented in the company creates and maintains an organized, safe, secure, clean, and efficient workplace.
The improvised versions of visual controls are implemented as a part of the methodology to make any process nonconformance’s and easily measurable.
It is often one element of a larger manufacturing process initiative and promotes continuous and consistent improvement.
The 5S System list is as follows
- Sort : Separating of the essential items from the non-essential items
- Straighten : Organizing the essential materials where everything has its proper and defined place
- Shine : Cleaning the work area in the organization
- Standardize : Establishing a system to maintain and make 5S System a habit
- Sustain : Establishing a safe and sanitary work and manufacturing environment
The 5S System Principles are recognized in various industry domains as one of the effective tools for improving workplace organization, reducing waste, and increasing the overall work efficiency.
Organizations should be careful to not allow the system to become viewed as the whole of the company’s improvement efforts otherwise it could become the end goal of the company’s improvement process instead of a key part of a larger continuous and consistent improvement journey.
The greatest benefit of using the 5S System is realized when it is part of a larger initiative in the firm and the entire organization has adopted its principles in a dedicated manner.
The system is a business philosophy and should be integrated into the organization’s culture in a successful manner.
Why to implement the 5S System?
There are quite many benefits of implementing the 5S System methods into a work area on the production line as well as in the business office to not only survive but thrive in today’s competitive market.
The cost and expenses must be controlled and waste must be avoided or eliminated. When the system is implemented properly, it can identify and reduce many forms of waste in any process or workstation in the company.
An organized work area reduces excessive motion and wasted time looking for the right kinds of tool and methods. The main visual aspect of the methodology is also quite effective when everything has a proper place, it is easier to spot something that is missing or misplaced.
A clean work area helps to draw the attention to possible problems or safety issues and a clean floor helps spot any leakages or spillages that could indicate machine maintenance and prevent slips and falls during the work processes.
Furthermore, encouraging people to watch for and address the potential problems can result in a positive change to the entire organization’s work culture.
Hence, the 5S System implemented as a larger lean manufacturing initiative or as a standalone tool can reduce the considerable amount of waste, improve quality of work, promote safety and drive continuous improvement in the work processes.
How to implement the 5S System?
The first and foremost step in the 5S System is sorting. During the sorting process, the team should go through all items in the work area including tools, supplies, materials, and bulk storage parts, etc. The team leader should review and evaluate every item within the group as this will help to identify which items are essential for getting the job done effectively and efficiently and which are not.
If the item is essential for the everyday business operations it should be tagged and cataloged and if the item is not essential, determine how often it is used in the performance of that specific work area. If it is a bulk item, decide the proper amount to be kept in that area and move the remaining quantity to the storage warehouse. Any excess inventory is one form of waste and should be eliminated.
Properly designate a place for all items that remain in the work area and put all items in their designated work location. During the straightening step of the process, look for ways to reduce or eliminate any form of waste. One form of waste in a process is unnecessary operator motion or movement during the manufacturing of the products.
Therefore, frequently used tools and supplies should be stored in the immediate work area close to the main operator. One effective method commonly used to avoid wasted time searching for the correct tool is constructing shadow boards for all the required and essential tools.
Items that are not used often should be stored based on their frequency of use in the manufacturing process. All parts bins should be properly and aptly labeled. The label should comprise the part number, part description, storage location, and the recommended minimum and maximum quantities. A properly straightened work area allows the operator to quickly review, assess, and verify that they have everything they need to successfully perform their task at hand in the firm.
The next step in the system is to clean everything in the area and remove any sort of trash. To be effective we must keep the area and any related equipment clean and properly sanitized. Dirty process and work types of equipment can actually increase the potential for process variability and lead to equipment failure in the work area.
Lost time due to equipment failure is considered as waste and non-value-added time. A dirty area can also contribute to various types of safety issues that have the potential to cause a worker to be injured. Operators should clean their areas at the end of each shift during the day or night.
By doing this they are likely to notice anything out of the ordinary such as oil or lubricant leaks, worn lift cables or wires, burnt out bulbs, and, dirty sensors, etc. The main aim here is to reduce waste and improve operator safety and work efficiency.
The fourth step in the system is the most important step as it develops the standards for the 5S system. They will be the standards by which the previous 5S steps are measured and maintained in the firm.
In this step, work instructions, checklists, standard work orders, and other documentation are developed. Without any sort of work instructions or standard work, operators tend to gradually just do things their own way instead of what was determined by the team at the very start.
The use of visual management is quite imperative and valuable in this phase. Color coding and use of standard colors for the surroundings is used sometimes. Photos of the area are often posted for easier identification of nonconformance’s factors of the process. The operators are also trained to detect non-conforming conditions and correct them on an immediate basis.
This step in the process can sometimes become the most challenging of all the above mentioned five steps. Sustaining is the continuation of the Sort, Straighten, Shine, and Standardize steps and it is the most important step in as it addresses the need to perform the overall 5S System on a consistent and organized basis. During this step, a standard audio system is developed and implemented with the main goal of the sustain step is to ingrain in the 5S process into the company culture.