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5S Program Sustain

By Graphic Products Editorial Staff

5S example shelf

The fifth and final "S" in the 5S Program is called sustain. With the first three steps of 5S completed – sort, set in order, and shine – and with the best practices that efficiently and effectively result in those three steps being accomplished having been set in standards, you might think you are done. But, this fifth step is a critically important one, without which 5S will eventually fail.

A Commitment To Success

If we were not looking for a word that started with the letter "S" this final step might have been called commitment. It is on on-going commitment to the standards created in the 4th S. It is a commitment to actively do all parts of 5S, not just the first two or three. It is a commitment to not sit back, rest and think the job is done, but instead to change habits and create a new standard of work place cleanliness and organization.

Changing entrenched habits is difficult, and people will tend to return to the way they did things in the past. One goal of 5S Sustain is to change those habits.

In addition, the results of using 5S can open the door to 5S failure. For example, implementing 5S tends to open up free space... and free space tends to attract clutter. A second goal of 5S Sustain is to prevent new problems from being created.

In the sustain step of 5S you'll need to train people to clean, organize and inspect their work areas every day, and not let clutter accumulate in any location. The overall goal of 5S Sustain is to ensure the 5S standards that resulted from the first four steps of 5S continue to be followed, and that standards are modified or created to address situations not anticipated during the initial implementation of 5S.

What Is 5S Sustain?

5S Sustain is defined as: on-going training and maintaining the established 5S standards.

Training is crucial for 5S success. People need to be reminded about the requirements of the established 5S standards. When there are changes that will effect your 5S program -- such as new equipment, new products, new work rules -- make the needed changes in the standards to accommodate those changes, and provide training on the new standards.

The following are a few tools and tips to help sustain 5S:

Make 5S A Part Of Your Performance Evaluation System

Everyone, from upper management to the janitor should have 5S as a part of their individual job performance goals. Include an evaluation of 5S performance as a part of each annual employee review. Without this level of commitment to 5S, it will become secondary in importance and will slowly become ignored and ineffective.

Make 5S Performance Results Public

5S performance goals should always be specific and measurable. Audits should be conducted on a regular basis, such as weekly, to measure how well each work area is meeting their 5S goals. The audit results should be posted so that everyone can see them and see how well their work area is doing compared with others in the company. In addition, having a system that gives monthly or quarterly rewards to employees who are employed in areas that met or exceeded their 5S goals serves as an incentive to meet 5S targets.

5S Training

Training does not necessarily mean gathering everyone together in a classroom. An effective way to have on-going training, and to maintain adherence to standards, is to use custom 5S posters and signs. By using custom posters and signs the message can be tailored to the specific department or situation. This improves both communication and retention of the message.

It is important to change posters and signs on a regular basis. A message that remains in place for an extended period of time eventually is ignored and becomes invisible. By changing your posters and signs, and keeping the messages fresh, they will continue to draw attention, be seen, and be remembered.

How is this accomplished? If you have a DuraLabel custom label printer, it's not a problem. You can quickly make the custom posters, placards, signs and labels you need, whenever they are needed.

Your company newsletter can be another effective training tool. Feature 5S success stories as well as tips for improving compliance with 5S standards. Use the newsletter to promote 5S related contests and competitions... and, of course, announce the winners.

Department Tours

Use department tours so that workers in one department can see what is being done in other departments. This type of "cross pollination" helps to spread good ideas and inspires people to come up with new ways to do an even better job of implementing 5S.

Management Support

Without management's visible commitment to 5S, it is difficult to get lower level employees to fully commit to making 5S a success. Managers should be involved in 5S through activities such as:

  • conducting 5S inspections
  • listening to, talking with, and offering advice to employees
  • providing 5S related seminars for employees
  • participation in 5S promotional events

Sustain Is Not The End of 5S

5S Sustain is not the final step of 5S. It is an ongoing process that also involves going back to the beginning and repeating the 5S process to find additional areas of improvement. The changes resulting from 5S can remove barriers that were hiding other problems that could not be seen. Going through a second, and third iteration of the complete 5S process has the benefit of revealing the need for additional changes.

The Five S's: Sort » Set In Order » Shine » Standardize » Sustain

Check out our detailed overview of the 5S System.