One of the core elements of Lean Manufacturing is a sound 5S
program. This will help create a solid foundation for an organization to drive
a successful continuous improvement program. 5S is a systematic and methodical
approach to create a safe and effective work environment.
The 5S methodology consists of 5 steps that compliment each
other in improving and sustaining an organized and progressive work place.
The first S “Sort” focuses on elimination of unnecessary articles from
the workplace. Asking the questions of how frequently items are used, who uses
it and Does it really need to be there will help determine what items need to
be in the area based on the value of each item.
Set / Straighten (Seiton)
Once all the clutter is removed from the area step 2 “Set in Order” comes
into play. Every item in the area should be assigned a designated place. The
location of each item should be easy to identify and accessible based on the
usage of each item. Frequently used items should be at hand, and infrequent
items should be accessible but not underfoot.
The next step “Shine” does not refer to just optimally cleaning up the
area; but includes continuous house cleaning activities including a planned
preventive maintenance program. This should be a daily routine not just a one
time or occasional clean-up.
Now that the first three steps are complete it is time to develop well defined
responsibilities, create a schedule and set goals for each area. The goal is to
create a best practices model that will help standardize the organization and
continue to build on the 5S program
last step is to ensure the 5S program continues to move smoothly throughout the
organization. Everyone in the organization must stay engaged. Managers as well
as the employees on the manufacturing floor and in the office need to
participate. Training in 5S best practices for each employee’s area is one of
the best ways to sustain the 5S program. Everyone is challenged to look for
opportunities to improve the program.