Tools for Each S in 5S

5S is a Lean manufacturing tactic that focuses on the organization of work spaces and processes for a safer and more efficient facility. 5S represents the five steps in this Lean process: sorting, setting, shining, standardizing, and sustaining. More than implementing new ways of organizing or working, there are specific supplies that can help in each step of the 5S process.

Seiri – Sort

This is the first step of your 5S journey. Go through the contents of your workspace to determine what is absolutely needed for the work or manufacturing process. Everything not used to complete the process should leave the work area.

Utilizing 5S red tags can really help you during this step. Attach red tags to items or equipment whose immediate use or need is unclear. This tagging system works in tandem with a “red tag area”, a specific holding area for the tools and equipment to be later evaluated and determined whether or not it can be removed, recycled, or moved to a different department.

Seiton – Set in Order

Now that the workspace only contains necessary supplies, it’s time to set it in order. This step will ensure all items have a designated home. Map out where tools and equipment will be placed and determine a logical order for them to be set in to eliminate the waste of extra movement.

Both shadow boards and floor markings are effective tools for organization. Shadow boards feature specific silhouettes behind or beneath where tools hang or sit when stored. These outlines make it clear to workers where to put back tools or identify what tools are missing. Custom floor signs are another clear visual marking off homes for certain items on the warehouse floor like trash bins for forklifts.

Seiso – Shine

Next up is the cleaning, sweeping, and shining of the newly sorted and set workspace. A clean work area is a safe and efficient area. Furthermore, being proactive in your efforts will keep your facility organized long after completing the five-step process and set an example for workers what is expected in a “shined” workplace.

Equipment should be painted if needed, maintenance should be done on machines, floors should be swept and your floor tape polished. Ensure you have all the necessary cleaning supplies to get this job done; floor tape, for example, requires a specific type of cleaner.

Seiketsu – Standardize

Don’t let your hard work from the previous go to waste and standardize 5S operations in your facility. Employees will know what is expected of them once a clear and universally understood system is implemented. Think back to the first three S’s in the process and create standards and rules for how and when these tasks will be performed.

Audit sheets give you the opportunity to create a checklist specific for your facility and 5S process. You can design these audit sheets to be used by whoever is checking an area on any given day.  Consider ramping up your visual communication efforts and hang posters and signs reminding workers about the process, 5S principles, expectations, and more.

Sustain – Shitsuke

Now that your facility is up to the standards you would like, it is time to sustain new practices to maintain discipline. This focuses on taking the procedures from previous steps and turning them into habits for the future.

Consider investing in an industrial label printer. Whenever you need a new label or to replace a damaged one, having a printer will make it easy, convenient, and cost effective. There a variety of options to choose from; printers capable of printing an assortment of different sized labels, or printing labels from different material.

5S can seem like a daunting system, one that may even seem too big to tackle. But work with your employees to go through the process and the result will be a clean, safe, efficient, and well-organized space that will benefit everyone.



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