Setting up an Effective 5S System

Most organizations will recognize the value of 5S concepts when they hear about them, but in many cases they don’t know how to properly set a system up in their company.  When done improperly it can actually cause more problems than solutions which is why it is essential to take the time to plan out an effective 5s system before taking any action.  The following steps will help any company get started on the right footing when it comes to 5S systems.

  • Treat it As a System – One of the most important things to understand about 5S is that it is indeed a system.  It is not a single event or one time program which can be completed, but rather an ongoing system which should change the way work is done in any company.  The system will grow and change over time, but always guided by the 5S concepts and principals which will help to avoid waste in a company and increase the profits.
  • Create a 5S Design Team – Setting up a company with a 5S system is one of the most important steps to ensure its success.  It should never be allowed to just organically happen because that will result getting poor results and a disappointing system.  Instead, form a design team which will focus on bringing every department working together to accomplish the same goals.  A 5S implementation or design team will help to ensure the success of this strategy.
  • Take the Time Needed for 5S – When many companies begin to implement a 5S program they get a lot of pushback from individuals throughout the organization.  Comments like, “Do you want us to do the work or do 5S, we can’t do both” are very common at this beginning phase.  Explaining that a good 5S strategy will save far more time than it takes to plan and implement, and those savings are continuous whereas the bulk of the planning and implementation only occurs once.  Using the time that is saved by following 5S strategies to further develop the 5S system is a great way to ensure both the work and the planning are done right.
  • Spend Time on Standardizing – The 4th “S” in 5S is for standardizing and it is essential.  While many companies spend time on the first three “S’s” which are sort, set in order and shine.  These three focus on improving the way things are done, but without standardization it is almost impossible to maintain the progress which has been made from the first three.  Standardization is the engine that keeps the 5S systems running for years on end.
  • Sustained Effort – In many cases there will be a lot of effort put into the 5S system right at first, and companies will see a lot of success.  The problems begin to pop up when companies feel like they’ve gotten the success they want and no longer put in the effort to sustain their achievements.  When companies stop improving, they start moving backwards which can result in major problems.  Plan out how to sustain the efforts put into the process from the beginning so your company does not fall into this trap.


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