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    April 20, 2023

    Understanding 5S Principles and Methodology

    Managing a business successfully often necessitates adopting an organizational style. One of the most common of these styles, 5S, is highly popular because it’s been proven quite successful over the years. This has led to the wide adoption of 5S principles across many different industries – especially in manufacturing.

    5S, which is shorthand for the five different components of the style (Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain), is well-known across the management world. However, not everyone knows much more than that. Here’s what you need to know about 5S principles and the methodology behind them.

    5S: A Short History

    To understand 5S principles more completely, it’s necessary to learn about where it comes from and why. The Japanese car industry, in the wake of the Second World War, needed a way to reinvent itself; this is exactly what happened once managers at the Toyota Motor Company conceptualized the new organizational approach. Before long, other automakers in Japan followed suit, and the rest is history – today the management approach has spread around the globe.

    From the beginning, 5S was meant to signify five Japanese words that all began with the same “s” sound. Today, modern translations of these concepts have kept the idea alive and have preserved the original core concepts by translating Japanese terms into English. While the two languages are very different, the concepts the approach revolves around – an embracing of simplicity, efficiency, and safety – are universal in any language.

    Breaking Down 5S Principles

    Taken one at a time, each one of the 5s principles is helpful by itself. However, when put together, they’re more than just the sum of their parts; this is why it’s most helpful to adopt all 5S principles at the same time. here’s a breakdown of each one to help understand how they work, both apart and together.

    • Sort: Facilities run more efficiently when they only have the tools, machinery, and equipment they need and nothing extra. The Sort process separates the necessary materials in a workspace from those that are superfluous, removing the extra items and placing them elsewhere.
    • Set in Order: Everything that remains in a workspace now needs to be set in the proper place. Equipment and machinery must be positioned in ways that they are safely accessible, tools must be organized and have sufficiently situated storage that is clearly labeled, and the entire worksite must be reorganized to ensure workflows are efficient.
    • Shine: Once a facility has been cleared out of any unnecessary items and the remaining tools and equipment have been set in order properly, it’s time to ensure everything is clean and free of clutter. Maintenance and cleaning efforts must be ongoing to prevent drops in efficiency and safety – if it’s not cleaned to a shine, it’s simply not clean.
    • Standardize: Once all the initial setup has been done and the workspace is now ready to begin operations again, the next to last step is to review all relevant policies and procedures to see if they need revising. New language should seek to standardize all documentation to ensure that anyone who is familiar with one document will know how to use another, no matter what department they are in.
    • Sustain: The last step is to ensure the four initial steps are kept up to date. Sustaining a worksite that’s been otherwise optimized requires close monitoring to ensure its conditions remain in line with 5S principles. This makes it easy to identify and detect problems so they can be corrected quickly.