5S workplace(Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize & sustain) examples

5S is a fundamental first step for any manufacturing company, wishing to call itself world class. We will understand this with step by step approach of its deployment. The 5S program mandates that resources be provided at the required location and be available to support work activities. These ideals ensure that operations and tasks can be executed as required.

5 Ss are derived from the first letters of the Japanese words. The five Japanese ā€œsā€ words for workplace organization are:

1. Seiko (proper arrangement)

2. Seiton (orderliness)

3. Seiketso (personal cleanliness)

4. Seiso (cleanup)

5. Shitsuke (personal discipline)

These are translated into approximate English equivalents as:

1. Sort : Separate out all that is unneeded and eliminate it.

2. Straighten(Set) : Put things in order, everything has a place.

3. Scrub ( or shine) : Clean everything, make the workplace spotless.

4. Standardize : Make cleaning and checking routine.

5. Sustain : Sustain the previous 4 steps and improve continually on them.

The 5S approach shows determination to organize the workplace, keep it neat and clean, establish standardized condition and maintain the discipline that is needed to do the job. Now there have been multiple changes in 5S, it can be reduced to 4S or modified to 6S. The 6th S can be Safety.

1. Sort : Separate out all that is unneeded and eliminate it

  • Set up a schedule to target each area
  • Remove unnecessary items in the workplace
  • Red tag unnecessary items, record everything that is thrown out
  • Keep repaired items that will be needed
  • Complete housekeeping and cleaning is done
  • Inspect the facility for problems, breakages, rust and scratches
  • List everything that needs repair
  • Deal with causes of filth and grime. Red tag grime areas and prioritize conditions for correction
  • Perform management reviews


2. Straighten(Set) : Put things in order, everything has a place

  • Have a place for everything and everything it its place to assure neatness
  • Analyze the existing conditions(status quo) for tooling, equipment, machinery, inventory, supplies, wiring, dashboards etc. including retrieval and storage does
  • Decide where things go, reduce inventories, create name and location for everything
  • Decide how things should be put away, including the exact location. Use labels, tool outlines and color codes
  • Obey the rules. Determine everyday controls and out of stock conditions
  • Define who does the reordering
  • Determine who has missing items or if they are lost
  • Use aisle markings for forklifts, boxes etc. and establish pallet zones for work in progress(WIP)


3. Scrub ( or shine) : Clean everything, make the workplace spotless

  • This is more than keeping things clean, it includes ways to keep things clean
  • Establish a philosophy and commitment to be responsible for all aspects of working conditions
  • Clean everything in the workplace, including equipment and correct root causes (identified in step 1)
  • Perform RCA and remedy machinery and equipment problems
  • Complete training on basics of equipment maintenance
  • Divide each area into zones and assign individual responsibilities for each zone
  • Rotate difficult and unpleasant jobs
  • Implement 3-min, 5-min and 10-min 5S activities
  • Use inspection checklists and perform white rag inspections

4. Standardize : Make cleaning and checking routine

  • Make 5S activities routine so that abnormal conditions show up
  • Determine the important points to manage and where to look
  • Maintain and monitor facilities to assure a state of cleanliness
  • Make abnormal conditions obvious with visual controls
  • Set standards, determine necessary tools and identify abnormalities
  • Determine inspection methods, short term countermeasures and long term remedies
  • Use visual management tools such as color coding, markings(showing direction or position), labels, equipment markings, maps and charts

5. Sustain : Sustain the previous 4 steps and improve continually on them

  • Sustain the 4 previous steps and continually improve on them
  • Acquire self-discipline through the habit of repeating the 4 previous steps
  • Establish standards for each of the 5S step
  • Establish and perform evaluations for each step

The management commitment will determine the control and self discipline areas for an organization. A 5S program can be set up and operational within 5 to 6 months, but the efforts to maintain world class conditions must be continuous.