The 5S System
The 5S System

The 5S system is primarily used during the Implementation stage, however, it can just as easily form a part of everyday practice (and indeed should!).

Sort:
Take a look at your work environment and identify the materials and equipment that are actually necessary. Unnecessary items are immediately discarded (or placed into storage) and the necessary items categorised in terms of their frequency of use: rarely, occasionally, and frequently.
Questionable items (e.g. those you are unsure about or which have a fault/problem) are “red tagged”. On the tag you should include the tag number, date of tagging, location, problem, improvement/solution, and whether it has been completed. These items can then be discarded if unnecessary or categorised if required.

Straighten:
Once you have identified the necessary items, it is time to find a home for them. You will need to take into consideration things like: Point of use storage (store it where you need it; e.g. the paper should be next to the printer), how you are going to identify these items (e.g. colour coding/matching storage and work areas), and the appropriate filing system (e.g. first in – first out vs. first in – last out).

Shine:
Ensure that the workplace and its contents are clean and fit for use. Cleaning means inspecting; get up close to the process. Make it so things are easy to see (including/especially abnormalities). When you do (inevitably) find problems, use the Kipling Checklist to identify and tackle the root cause. Like with red tagging, repair or replace items that are not fit for use.

Standardise:
Here it is essential to define the standard that you are willing and able to adhere to. Ensure that procedures, practices, and activities are executed consistently and at regular intervals so that Sort, Straighten, and Shine are maintained and institutionalised. Doing so will guarantee the 5S excellence of the workplace.

Sustain:
Keep it up! This S is all about custom and practice: Managers should be committed to the 5S system, proper training will have been provided, and the benefits and importance of team work emphasised. At this point, the correct procedure has become habit. The only thing left to do is regularly review your workplace so that you can monitor your process.