What are 5S Red Tags?

Red tags are a simple, but critical, tool used in the first step of 5S.5S red tags

5S is a Lean methodology used to organize and maintain workspaces in order to improve efficiency. Like the name implies, there are steps to the 5S system beginning with the Sort phase. Cluttered tool chests and work benches result in a space that is difficult to work in and workers may have to spend extra time searching for the right item.

You will want to be thorough in the sort step; go through the tools, materials, products, and equipment thoroughly only keep items that add value. Everything deemed unnecessary will be removed from the space.

It is important to be ruthless while sorting, clearing out the items that are not used on a daily basis and whose function is unknown. It’s not always easy to just toss materials or tools, but the 5S red tags will make this process a lot smoother.

When you see an object you think may need to be removed or you are unsure about, put a red tag on it. This lets everyone know this item needs to be moved to the holding area and evaluated.

On the red tag, you will indicate where the item was found, what date it was tagged, and what action should be taken. Most tags include the following possible actions:

  1. Leave the item where it is
  2. Relocate the item
  3. Dispose of the item
  4. Recycle the item
  5. Place in “Red Tag Holding Area”

Items placed in the Red Tag Holding Area are items that are not needed in a specific space in the facility. A future date should be written on the red tag for workers to re-evaluate the item. If it wasn’t used since it had been tagged, it is probably okay to toss it.

For example, say you have a tool you haven’t seen anyone use in a long time, but you aren’t sure you should get rid of it. Place it in the red tag holding area with a date on it, perhaps for a month from now. If that date passes and no one has used the tool, you can safely assume it’s not needed and remove it from the workplace.

On the other hand, if you determine an item is still needed, remove the red tag and find an appropriate location to store it.

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