5S System, 5S Methodology

5S system / 5S methodology – It’s a way of Life

What is 5S System / 5S Methodology?

5S System is a set of principles that aims to improve workplace efficiency, organization, and safety. 5S Methodology mainly focuses on five key aspects namely Sort, Set In Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain.

The 5S System is a standardized process when properly implemented in the company creates and maintains an organized, safe, secure, clean, and efficient workplace.

5S Methodology is basically originated in Japan and is widely used across industries. It is a lean manufacturing tool or Kaizen tool that focuses on organizing and standardizing the workplace.

Many a times, organizations failed in 5S Implementation because they think that 5S Methodology is nothing but housekeeping program and ignores the important objective of it.

5S System Benefits:

Benefits to be derived from implementing a 5S System include:

  • Improved safety
  • Improved efficiency
  • Lower defect rates
  • Reduced costs
  • Increased production and flexibility
  • Improved employee morale
  • Better asset utilization
  • Enhanced enterprise image to customers, suppliers, employees, and management

5S SYSTEM/6S SYSTEM (5S + Safety):

These are 5 “S” taken from five Japanese words. In recent years, many organizations started adding 6th “S”: SAFETY to make entire work environment safe. This term is coined as 6S which is 5S system plus Safety.


“When in Doubt, Move it Out.”

In Sorting, we remove unwanted items from our workplace. This is an action to identify and eliminate all unnecessary items from the workplace.

  • Sorting involves defining what is necessary and what is not.
  • Separate necessary from unnecessary
  • Space is freed by removing unnecessary items.
  • Use Red Tag System for taking decision on unnecessary parts.


“PEEP – Place for Everything, Everything in a Place”

Seiton/Set In Order is activity in which we put the necessary items in their place and providing easy access. In short “ Place for Everything, Everything in a place”.

  • Set in order involves asking ‘What’, ‘How much’, ‘Where’ and ‘For What’ questions to parts stored in place.
  • Defining location and address every item.
  • Items to be stored as per frequency of use, weight and size.
  • Follow 3F concept to store material (Fixed Position, Fixed Item, Fixed Quantity)

Based on frequency of use, store material close to user location, or near the work area or outside the work area.

  • For better storage system, make use of Visual control, use floor lines and markings, use outlines and shadow, use sign boards and labels, use colour codes etc.
  • Use “10 Golden Rules of Storage” to store material in systematic manner.


“Cleaning is Inspection” – Cleaning allows problem to be visible.

In the context of 5S, sweep means to clean in such a way as to identify and remove the sources of contamination. Obviously, this definition is much more than many make this step out to be.

Here’s how it works: first, we do an initial physical Sweep to make everything clean by picking up trash, sweeping the floors clean, and wiping down machines and equipment. Then, we do a visual Sweep each day and notice where things are getting dirty again. And during these daily sweeps we write down the reasons why the mess occurred and take action to eliminate the root causes.

Another important concept is that ‘Cleaning is inspection‘. If you’ve ever hand washed and waxed a car you know that there’s no better way to find all the little dings and dents on your car since you’re touching it and looking at it far more closely than you normally would. Well, the exact same thing occurs in our offices, factories, and hospitals when cleaning things.

In short, 3rd S tells us:

  • Clean and inspect the workplace.
  • Eliminate the source of dirt.
  • Restore the original operating condition.
  • Visually identify the problems

Steps to Shine:

  • Own the Zone: The first step is to assign zones of responsibility. Everyone should be assigned a zone within the area and be made responsible for keeping it in order. Key considerations should be the time it takes to do daily maintenance, and the impact the member has with respect to keeping the area clean. In other words, everyone should clean their own room.
  • Set Standards : The second step is to set standards to sweep. It is also termed as “Siso calendar”.  Create schedule based on type of item to be clean, define its frequency to clean and method to clean.
  • Keep to the clock: The third step is to keep to the clock. If anyone starts to clean a room without any target time, it will a day long to clean it. Therefore, be sure to determine and indicate the allowed time to perform the daily activity with regards to 5S.
  • Start at the same time: The fourth step is to start at the same time. This makes it easy to see if proper work assignments have been made with regards to daily maintenance. And if they’re not, adjustments can be made.


    “Standardization ensures the sustainability of previous 3S”

    Standardization serves to minimize variation and its effect on quality and speed.

    Seiketsu/Standardization involves creating visual controls and guidelines for keeping the workplace organized, orderly and clean. This is a condition where a high standard of good housekeeping is maintained.

    The first three S’s are often executed by order, but “Standardization” runs parallel with each ‘S’.

    • Define standards for Sorting, Set In Order and Shine.
      • Define visual standards companywide and follow them.
      • Use color code and symbols to facilitate the identification.
      • Define standards for maintenance of equipment.
      • Define responsibility and frequency for updating the standards.

    What is to be standardize?

    • Employees who perform similar duties, use standard methods to achieve consistent results.
    • Standard methods sheets, and visual aids are present in the area. They are stored in a logical location, with fast and easy access by employees.
    • Standardized workflow and work clearly documented, understood and implemented.
    • SOPs, Checklists, naming conventions, versioning rules, ownership, etc. standardized and procedures for update established.
    • Metrics and KPIs for individual and team performance established, and visible to all.

    Standardization Examples:

    6S KPI board –


    “Make 5S as a way of life by forming the habit of always following the first 4S’s”

    Shitsuke/Sustain involves training and discipline to ensure that everyone follows the 5S standards. This is a condition where all members practice the first four S’s spontaneously and willingly as a way of life. Accordingly, it becomes the culture in the organization.

    • Commitment from each employee of the organization.
    • Periodic facility management involvement is required to check that the first 4S’s are implemented perfectly.
    • Employees must make it a part of their daily work and not an action forced upon them.
    • Dedication, commitment, devotion, and sincerity are needed in implementation of 5S on daily basis.
    • Senior management should initiate a celebration for the total 5S implementation and be an active part in the total process in initiating and carrying forward the program.
    • Senior management should do a periodic review of the status of 5S.

    When fully implemented, the 5S process increases morale, creates positive impressions on customers, and increase efficiency and organization.

    Not only will employees feel better about where they work, but the effect on continuous improvement can also lead to less waste, better quality, and faster lead times.

    5S is not only a system for housekeeping; it is an integrated approach for productivity improvement. 5S is a whole a culture which increases production, improves quality, reduces cost, makes delivery on time, improves safety, and improves morale.

    To get the greatest success, the nature and implication of each “S” need to be understood by each employee and should be regularly practiced.

    Why to wait then, let’s start 5S journey immediately !!

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