September 29, 2012

5S in Manufacturing

A work place organization method, developed to, create a comfortable working environment, increase productivity and efficiency and reduce waste. It is typically the first lean method, which also provided foundation on which other lean methods – six sigma, cellular manufacturing, just-in-time production, etc. were introduced.

The 5S methodology which originated in Japan, is based on the notion that the foundation of a good production system is a clean and safe work environment. The 5S – Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu and Shitsuke are translated from Japanese language to the closest English equivalents - Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. Apart from the 5S’s, three other S’s are sometimes included – Safety, Security and Satisfaction. 
SORT – (seiri)
Organizing the work area, by keeping only the essential tools and materials to perform the required task, so as to increase the product quality and productivity. Sorting also helps reclaim valuable floor space. “Red tagging” is one effective visual method used for sorting (Red-tagged items are those not important to perform the required task).
SET IN ORDER – (seiton)
Systematically arranging necessary objects to eliminate waste in production and clerical activities. Placards to designate proper storage locations, outlining work areas are few of the strategies for effective set in order.
SHINE – (seiso)
Maintaining clean and well swept work area, which is safer and mess-free. Potential problems caused by any sources of contamination can be easily identified and rectified, by developing standards and norms for cleanliness.
STANDARDIZE – (seiketsu)
Developing and formulizing standard operating procedures for carrying out tasks and procedures. Orderliness is the core of “standardization”. The most widely used tools to standardize the practices are job cycle charts and visual cues.
SUSTAIN – (shitsuke)
It is the one that keeps the first four S’s going and perhaps is the most difficult S to implement. The prerequisites for sustaining the 5S cycle - Imparting the necessary training, encouraging workers to properly maintain and continuously improve operating procedures and the workplace environment.

5S – Its application at a manufacturing company – Toyota
Toyota was the first company to implement 5S and the main objectives to adopt 5S were to facilitate team work, eliminate wastes that contribute to errors, defects and injuries. The company had implemented 5S by imparting the necessary training to the workforce from the shop floor to the management and rewarded to encourage them, to maintain and continuously improve operating procedures.
5S being one of the important principles of Toyota company, helped it achieve high performance that continues to add value to customers.
Though 5S is a system designed to build a work ethic that is practical, efficient and highly disciplined, it has a few potential short comings like increased use of paints and cleaning supplies, increased waste generation leading to complications in waste handling. However, the advantages of 5S far outweigh the disadvantages. 
The article has been contributed by Sujitha Tikka, who is presently a first year PGP student at IIM Raipur. She has worked with Aarvee Associates architects engineers & Consultant Pvt Ltd for 25 months. Her areas of interest include Supply chain management & logistics.She can be reached at
The 14 Principles of the Toyota Way: An Executive Summary of the Culture behind TPS

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