5S, often referred to as Lean 5S, is a philosophy that focuses on identifying key items in your process, getting rid of unnecessary items, and optimizing the operation’s workflow with standardized and sustainable methods.
The 5S methodology is centered around 5 Japanese S words which are conveniently translated into 5 words beginning with S in English.
By focusing on the key methodologies attached to these 5 points, companies are able to organize and optimize their efficiency and productivity.
The 5 S’s are Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, & Sustain.
5S is part of the Lean Manufacturing methodology.
The method is designed to build an optimal working environment, both physically, and mentally.
Some companies have adopted an extra S for Safety, prompting some to call it 6S.
Use visual work instructions software to add a layer of visual control to your 5S and 6S measures.
Let's take a look at each of the 5 S's and highlight some key measures for each S. When beginning your 5S journey, each step should be done sequentially. However, after the process has been completed, each S should be an ongoing venture for all departments. The idea is to never stop cleaning, never stop organizing, and never stop optimizing.
The first S is Seiri, which, when translated into English, means “sort”. In this step, you’ll want to take a good hard look at your production items. This includes:
Once you’ve identified your production items, you’ll need to sort everything out into two categories, needed and unneeded. This can also be categorized as necessary and wasteful.
A good way to determine if something is necessary or wasteful is to look at it from the perspective of the customer. Ask yourself: Does this directly or indirectly add value to the customer? If yes, keep it and enhance it. If not, throw it out.
Now, when considering parts and materials, sorting means removing them from the production space. This way, users and machine layout are not encumbered with unnecessary materials. But, we surely don’t want to throw out everything that is not in use. If money has been spent, then it’s best to use these materials to their fullest and slowly progress to smarter inventory measures.
However, if there are no plans to use these materials and a lack of space is affecting production efficiency, then perhaps the items should be sold or removed entirely.
Intelligently sorting through your production items in this manner helps to clean up the production line of unnecessary items so that the operation is less distracted, less complex, more spacious, and more open to an enhanced and streamlined setup.
In this next step, take all the items left from “sorting” and “set them in order” for ease of use. This means placing these necessary items in the optimal place so that the operation can be streamlined.
The goal of this step is to make everything flow in an optimal order so that physical elements, as well as employee workflow, are simple and effective. Here are some key methods that help companies increase flow and order.
They say cleanliness is next to godliness, and there may be a bit of truth to that. A clean and organized working environment can often protect manufacturers from workplace accidents, product defects, and low employee morale.
To implement Seiso, perform the 2 following actions and make your operation shine!
Cleaning can be done daily or at another predetermined frequency but it should be done often. This also gives your operators the chance to inspect the workplace, the equipment, and their tools for any issues that would normally go unnoticed.
Create specific cleaning and inspection guidebooks within VKS to ensure that everything meets the exact standards of your company and 5S methodologies.
Now, you’ll need to standardize the above processes. Sorting, arranging, and cleaning need to be established as the standard operating procedure. And these standards need to be easily repeatable.
To accomplish this, you can do the following.
Use work instruction software to accomplish all of the above methods. Create standardized digital work instructions that guide workers through every step of their tasks and responsibilities. This ensures that the best practices are followed every time.
The last step in Lean 5S is to make these processes sustainable. You can do this by performing the following.
The last point is crucial for modern businesses. We may get the idea that sustainability is about keeping things the way they are or maintaining the status quo. But for every operation, Sustainability should mean a whole lot more than that.
Sustainability is about keeping an eye on the future and creating new practices that keep your company alive and thriving. As technology, workforces, and methods change over time, companies will have to find new ways to maintain growth and sustainability.
Through the popularity and improvement initiatives brought on by 5S methodologies, some have seen fit to add a 6th S to the philosophy: Safety.
In this step, you’ll need to identify hazards, perform risk assessments, and establish preventative measures. In many ways, the 6th S is a review of the 5S methodology with a keen focus on preventing hazards and sustaining safe practices.
Preventative measures can be any of the following actions:
Each one of these safety measures can be accomplished with work instruction software. Establish best practices, ensure safety compliance, create effective training programs, and improve employee safety engagement with one purpose-built software.
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