5S is a structured approach to getting a workplace cleaned up, organized, standardized, creating efficiency rather than waste, and sustaining improvements made. It is called "5S" based on five Japanese words starting with “s” that describe the five steps this involves. There are many articles describing the 5S system, but what are the benefits of 5S?
The key benefits of 5S are:
- Less Waste (Improved Efficiency)
- Reduced Space Used For Storage
- Improved Maintenance
- Improved Safety
- Better, More Committed Employees
- Improved Quality
Japanese to English terms:
- Seiri - Tidiness
- Seiton - Orderliness
- Seiso - Cleanliness
- Seiketsu - Standardization
- Shitsuke- Discipline
What Are The Benefits Of 5S?
Less Waste Equals Improved Efficiency
A key principle of 5S is to get rid of items that are not used, and make it easier to find items that are needed. This gets rid of clutter, unnecessary tools, scrap materials and unused supplies. It organizes, labels and places close at hand those tools and materials that are needed on a regular basis. The result is that time is spent more productively and less time is wasted finding needed tools and materials.
In 5S, materials, tools, machines and equipment are positioned in ergonomic locations. This helps reduce fatigue, quickens access, and results in a more efficient workplace. Ergonomic positioning helps to address and eliminate the seven wastes.
Standardization is also a part of 5S. Standardization ensures that the most efficient work practices are identified and used, and that wasteful work practices, unnecessary tools, unused materials are eliminated.
Less Space Used For Storage Equals Reduced Costs
By eliminating unused materials, tools and equipment, and getting rid of clutter, a surprising amount of space will free up. There is a cost associated with space, not only in the rental or lease costs, but in heating/cooling, cleaning and maintaining of that space.
Clean Equals Improved Maintenance & Less Down Time
When machines, equipment, and tools are kept clean and free from clutter, it is easier to spot defects, part failures, and problems such as an oil leak. This allows preventative maintenance to address the problem before it becomes a more serious problem.
For example, if a machine is kept clean, an oil leak would immediately be noticed. The source and cause of the leak can be quickly identified and the problem fixed, before low oil levels lead to more serious damage to the machine.
Implementing 5S Equals Improved Safety
- Cleanliness ensures spills get cleaned up ASAP, eliminating the potential for slips and falls.
- Clutter is removed, revealing hidden electrical, chemical or mechanical hazards.
- Having needed tools, materials and supplies close to where they are needed greatly reduces travel (movement) and as a result reduces the potential for injury.
- Unsafe practices are eliminated through the standardization step of 5S
- Employees who have their eyes open for spotting ways to improve using 5S principles will be more aware of their surroundings and potential safety hazards.
Improved Morale Equals Greater Commitment to Job
When your employees see you care about them, their work area, and that you value their input, they care more about their job. The clean, organized workplace that results from 5S is a more pleasant workplace that leads to improved employee attitudes. The focus on cleanliness, organization, labor-saving efficiency, having the right tools, and using quality standards leads to an increased pride in workmanship.
Add in the improved safety (lower numbers of injuries) resulting from 5S and you get a workforce that is happier (less turn-over), more motivated, is getting more done with less effort, and is interested in improving their workplace and your products.
5S is one of the most cost-effective lean techniques available, and it is the foundation to all other lean techniques. That makes it the perfect starting point for bringing the benefits of lean to your workplace.
It is simple to get started with 5S, it begins with cleaning and organization. Using a DuraLabel label printer you can mark and label everything so that tools, supplies, equipment and materials can be properly identified and stored. Mark machines and equipment with labels providing standardized operating and maintenance instructions. Ensure you are fully in compliance with all OSHA requirements by making needed safety signs, pipe markers and GHS labels. Make way-finding signs to identify work locations and the safest and most efficient paths through your facility.
5S is foundation to all other lean techniques and having proper labeling and signs is foundational to 5S.