The 5S Assessment tool is a lean process for continuous business improvement in the workplace. It improves efficiency by removing the ‘waste of waiting’ looking for materials, information, or tools.
“5S not only eliminates delays in production but also, boosts self-confidence and safety, resulting in an improved work environment.”- Nitesh Sahni, Quality Control Manager.
What 5S stands for?
The tool gets its name from 5 Japanese words starting with the letter “S”, which when translated to English broadly mean:
How 5S works?
5S represents 5 stages at which the improvement takes place in the workplace.
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- The objective of this stage is to select things that are required in the workplace. All the unwanted items should be removed to make it easier to access necessary materials, information, and tools.
- The team reviews all items in the area and moves infrequently used items to a location that doesn’t interfere with the immediate work area.
- This segregation is carried out through a ‘red tag process’. A red tag is placed on unwanted items which are then moved to a specified red tag location.
- The team can review the items stored in the tagged location and decide whether the items need to be stored, moved to another location, sold or discarded.
- Holding items in a specified location allows the team to salvage essential items and dispose of the rest.
- The objective of this stage is to assign a place to everything so that everything is in its place. This involves presenting materials, information, and tools to the team in such a way that minimises motion.
- The most frequently used items are placed close to the immediate work area. The storage areas are conveniently located so that the team can move the items to their correct places when not using them.
- Visible storage locations and shadow boards make it easier to detect when some items are missing so that immediate action can be taken and delays can be avoided.
- Specified locations are neatly marked by taping the work areas and floors, part labels and pictures.
- The objective of this stage is to clean the area and to prepare the surfaces for marking and painting.
- Painting the fixtures, equipment, and floors improves the overall visual appeal and raises the standard.
- A regular cleaning roster is planned that the team has to follow after completing their shift. One day per week is assigned for a deeper clean.
- The objective of this stage is to set standards that must be regularly maintained for the cleaning the area at the end of the shift and weekly for the deeper clean.
- Pictures should be displayed in the work area that serve as a visual reference for maintaining these standards.
- The standards are set keeping in mind the workplace environment. In dusty environments, the focus should be on keeping the work areas, key equipment, and visual aids clean as it would be impossible to keep the entire facility clean.
- Standardizing storage devices and colour coding makes it easier for the team to work in separate departments.
- The objective of this stage is to manage the workings of the entire cleaning schedule. A management system is needed that prepares the cleaning roster and divides the workload.
- The completed tasks should be checked daily at end of shift and weekly after the deep cleans. The managers audit the area to check whether the production is at the desired level and the place is maintained up to the standards as indicated by the visual displays.
5S is an important foundation of Lean culture as it improves the production process and eliminates waste through workplace organisation and standardisation. “5S is one of the most successful tools for reducing wastage in the workplace. With some resources and basic training, your team can improve business performance and set the standards in office and manufacturing environments.” -Sumit Gupta, LEAN Manufacturing Auditor.