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Tools for 5S

By Joel Bradbury

Tools for 5S

The 5S system is a lean manufacturing tool that helps you de-clutter, clean and organize the workplace, as well as standardize how work is done. It often serves as the foundation of many lean programs because it provides clear guidance on how to improve the workplace using the five “S” principles.

  • Sort is the first principle, requiring you to remove tools, supplies, and equipment that are not needed.
  • Set in Order, the next principle, requires you to organize the workplace based on how work is actually done.
  • Shine, the third principle, involves cleaning the workplace and restoring tools, equipment, and more to its original condition.
  • Standardize is the fourth principle and requires you to create procedures to ensure work is done consistently and that 5S is employed in a uniform manner.
  • Sustain, as its name suggests, requires you to ensure 5S becomes a daily habit by repeating each step on a day-to-day basis.

Get started with 5S by implementing several visual communication tools, including floor marking, 5S tags, shadow boards, labels, and signage. Here’s how.

Floor Marking

Tools for 5S - Floor MarkingWhen starting with the 5S system, you must first remove unneeded items from the workplace. To aid with this, consider floor marking to designate areas where unneeded items can be placed. These areas should be designated as follows:

  • Areas for scrap are useful for items that are defective, obsolete, or have no use. Workers in each department should carefully sort through items before placing them here.
  • Areas for repurposed items are for tools, equipment, or supplies that have no useful function in one area, but might be useful in another area. Workers from each department should go through these items to determine if they are needed in their area.

Another use for floor making includes marking lanes of travel, identifying areas that are off-limits, and identifying where items should be placed. This is especially helpful during the set-in-order phase of your implementation. Besides marking where items should be placed, floor marking helps to ensure that items are placed in an orderly fashion.

5S Tags

During the sort phase of 5S, workers need a way to quickly identify what should be done with items. Actions include whether items should be moved, returned, or discarded. (Learn more about Muda, Mura, Muri, which is dedicated to eliminating waste.) These tags are easy to see and help workers as they sort through tools, supplies, and equipment.

Here’s how tags can help improve the 5S process:

  • Red tagging: Red tags identify which infrequently-used items should be discarded
  • Storage: Tags can indicate when items should be put in storage for later use—and where those items should be stored
  • Proper placement: Tag an item with the correct department name and location, so workers know where to return it after use

Shadow Boards

Tools for 5S - Shadow BoardAs the name suggests, shadow boards consist of a board that uses vinyl tape to create outlines of the tools that will be placed on a given board. These boards help workers quickly identify where tools belong as well as notice when any are missing. Shadow boards can help organize the workplace, save time, and make work easier.

Here are a few traits of successful shadow boards:

  • Clear: Shadow boards should clearly indicate, through both background “shadows” and text, which tools go in each position
  • Accessible: Shadow boards should be placed in a common area where numerous workers can access the board, move freely, and easily see what’s missing
  • Clean: Shadow boards reduce clutter and offer plenty of space, so workers can quickly see which tools are stored on the board

Labels and Signage

Tools for 5S - Labeling and SignageLabels are another important element in 5S. To help set things in order, tools, equipment, and supplies should be identified using labels. Generally, this includes the name of the item, as well as the department in which it belongs. Ideas for labeling as part of a broader 5S effort include some of the following:

  • Red Tagging: Print red tags (and apply them to little-used items) to identify and track unnecessary items, mark them for removal, and provide additional information
  • Storage: Label shelving, bins, and storage units to help workers identify where items belong or retrieve the correct item
  • Procedural information: Use labels and signs to ensure startup, shutdown, inspection, and other procedures are followed correctly

5S Resources from Graphic Products

Learn more about 5S and implement the system in your facility with our comprehensive 5S System Guide. The free guide explains the basics of 5S, breaks down each step of the process, and shows how 5S can lead to increased efficiency, improved organization, and a better bottom line.

Given that 5S relies on labels and signs for maximum effectiveness, see how DuraLabel industrial label and sign printers by Graphic Products can help you get started. Use the printers in tandem with high-performance DuraLabel supplies to help workers find tools and supplies, communicate appropriate standards, and offer direction.

More 5S Resources