5 S’s Concept
The expression Five S (or 5 S) designates a management tool developed in Japan around the decade of 50’s by Toyota, used a lot in the quality area and has as main goal to organize workstations, as a way to increase work productivity and decrease the wastes associated to the business processes. For its characteristics and goals, forms one of the first steps for an organization to implement a management process of full quality.
This tool is also known as 5 senses sine the acronym “5 S” derives from the initials of five Japanese words:
- Seiri (Sorting): use sense which corresponds to eliminate what is not needed, separating it from what really is necessary. This S focuses on the elimination of the unnecessary items. One of the most used methodologies is the placement of red tags on the items that are not needed for the conclusion of the tasks. With the placement of red tags, it’s intended to identify in a way quick, easy and with high visibility the items or goods that, from the start will not be useful in a certain place and that can be moved to other areas.
- Seiton (Stabilizing or Straightening Out): organization sense which means to place in order, keeping in an orderly way everything that is necessary. After a first stowage of work places, with the removal of everything that is needless for the performance of the tasks, it’s proceeded to a creation of a new way of organization of work places. What is wanted in this phase, is to re-think all work form, always with the aim to increase the work productivity, eliminating wastes of time and efficiency, which is achieved by the performance of tasks such as: (i) Identify the best place for the items considered necessary, so that they can be easily used and stored; (ii) Organize the way to maintain those items in the established places; (iii) Be able to do on an easy visual way, that everyone notices when some item it’s not in its place; (iv) Establish stock limits; (v) Define and implement indicators to monitor the situation;
- Seiso (Sweeping or Shining): cleaning sense that means the elimination of waste. At this stage, the places or workstations are already properly organized, having only what is needed and in the necessary quantities. The following step consists on performing a deep cleaning, as well as creating control methodologies so that the cleaning and stowage conditions are kept. Beyond the normal cleaning tasks, should also be analyzed if the equipments are in good conditions of use, namely in terms of maintenance, calibrations, measurements, etc.
- Seiketsu (Standardizing): hygiene sense that means tidiness, standardization. In this stage should to be defined rules and methodologies to systemize the maintenance of the initial work, as a way that there isn’t the risk of going back to the initial situation. For that it will be necessary to establish in writing the aspects to control as a way to achieve the planned goals, being, level definition of minimum stocks, workstations cleaning periodicity, dates for the identification of the destination to give to the unnecessary items, etc.
- Shitsuke (Sustaining the Practice): order kept sense that means discipline, with the strict compliance of everything that was established. The last stage of 5 S’s, consists on the performance of a continuous job in order that the efforts and resources with the methodology of 5 S’s be kept, with more and better results. On this last stage, the main worries are: (i) Assure maintenance of the employees compliance to the 5 S’s methodology through communication, training and self-discipline and (ii) Assure that the 5 S’s become a habit of all employees. For that it will be needed to define a measurement system and monitoring of the new rules and practices implemented.