7 Steps to 5S

[tweetmeme] John, a young production manager, makes his way onto the production floor to see how an important changeover is progressing. As we read yesterday, he is disappointed to learn that the change over is running much longer than scheduled. The team is struggling and cannot find some of the change parts for the filler…..maybe now is the time to implement this 5S John has been hearing about.

5S is named for its 5 steps: Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain and is more than window dressing. 5S will bring several benefits to John’s plant and your workplace. While there are five S’s and five steps perceived by the operator on the production floor, there are seven steps to implementation:

Step 1: Promotion & Implementation Plan

Step 2: Initial 5S Audit

Step 3: Implement 1st S – Sort

Step 4: Implement 2nd S – Set Locations & Limits

Step 5: Implement 3rd S – Shine & Sweep

Step 6: Implement 4th S – Standardize

Step 7: Implement 5th S – Sustain

John’s team is following these 7 Steps to 5S. We will explore how the team implements 5S and the benefits received starting with tomorrow’s post. We’ll see that they enjoy improved housekeeping and organization, losses and waste become more visible, the team becomes more structured and disciplined, they have more pride and ownership, and continuous improvement becomes the culture of the plant.


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About Christian Paulsen

Christian Paulsen is an Executive Consultant with 20 years of Lean Manufacturing. Chris adds value to organizations by driving process improvement and bottom line savings. Chris intends to help others by sharing the lessons learned after a quarter century of operational leadership, marriage, parenting, and even longer as a Cubs fan. Your comments on this blog are welcome. You can also connect with Chris via LinnkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in the right sidebar. Chris welcomes your comments. Christian's professional services are available by contacting him through LinkedIn (right side bar)
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16 Responses to 7 Steps to 5S

  1. Chris,

    Thanks for doing this series on 5S! The concept is quite powerful, and can be applied to more than just tangible problems of cleanliness and order. There’s very often inefficient thinking based on prior expectations that occurs, too. A “5S for the Head” is necessary in many situations, and might be the more important aspect of promoting change: Removal of old ideas and replacing with new ones that work better.

    Check out this post on my blog for more thoughts! http://myflexiblepencil.com/2010/07/12/change-management-and-the-5s-framework/

  2. David,

    Thanks for reading this post and for your comments. I really like your perspective on 5S & Change Management too. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Mari-Lyn says:

    I like the structure that you have put into place. It’s simple easy to follow,
    I know a few people that would really like this kind of structure.

  4. Chris, I came here via the LinkedIn thread. I suggest that you use a “More…” break for the home page to make people read the article on its permalink URL. I was confused at reading “please comment below” on the home page and not seeing anywhere to comment.


    • Ash,

      Thanks for the feedback on the format of the blog. I believe that I have to switch to another wordpress template for the lay-out you describe. I agree that it’s better so I’ll be making the switch. Thanks for reading and for the feedback.

      Best regards,

  5. Very good, clear post. “Liked” your Facebook page too, and applied to join LinkedIn group to gather more insights.
    I provide a simplistic 5S tutorial on my website, intended to get people engaged in the basics. I’d welcome your opinion. http://www.applexmanagement.co.uk/whatis5s.html

    Kind regards,

    • Stephen,

      Thank you for your feedback and for liking my FB page. You will probably notice that some of the posts on the FB page are unique while others are links back to this blog. I’ll check out your tutorial. It sounds like a great idea.

      Best regards,

    • Stephen,

      I like your 5S tutorial. The animation is great and it teaches the basics rather quickly. One interesting difference between what I am used to and your interpretation of 5S is the first 2 S titles themselves.

      You have Sift, Sort, Sweep, Standardize, Sustain.

      In the US I’m used to seeing Sort, Set (Limits & Locations), Shine & Sweep, Standardize, Sustain.

      The S’s are the same in practice though.

      It’s a great introduction. Good job.


  6. Hi Dave, I have a problem in initiating 5s & 7 waste audit.
    Is there any standard steps or should i walk the floor.

    My current environment is IT service desk with ITIL focus processes.

    • Hi Ganesh,

      Are you trying to do 5S audits? Sustaining is the hardest part of 5S….What is the struggle at your site?


      • Hi Chris,
        I intent to start the 5S in my work-place, for a start I’m wish to pilot it first to learn how to effectively roll out the program company wide.
        There is an opportunity to implement 5S and 7 waste in a team of 2 staff. They are managing purchasing, assets mgmt, office maintenance for 80 staff.
        I’ve request the team to develop a business records summary stating the record type, storage location, retention period.
        My 1st opportunity to use 5S will be making sure records are kept neat and easily assessable.
        My 2nd opportunity will be in company storage room, where we may keep some waste and wish to clean it with 5s
        I’m hoping the audit result will convince my collogue to execute improvement via 5S and 7 waste.

  7. Hi, and thanks for your question. Let’s see if we can figure out how to get you where you want to go.

    First question is – where do you want to go? Do you already have a 5S system in place, and are looking for ways to conduct audits, or are you trying to get 5S going in your workplace?

    Question 1B is, of course – why are you doing 5S in the first place? 5S, in my mind, is a means – not an end. It’s a component of visual management, which is a series of methods designed to help you see the 7 (or 8) wastes as they occur – or even prevent them.

    I’m going to bet that there’s an intuitive sense that there’s waste in your organization, and that your 5S efforts are designed to make that “spidey sense” into something more tangible. Getting people to practice 5S might be a bit of a challenge. The audits might help with that, just be sure they are done in a consultative manner, otherwise it will be perceived as just more command & control.

    Feel free to shoot me a note directly if you’d like more advice.

  8. Rebecca says:

    Hi I wondered if you could help me start up 5s in my place of work ? My manager is leaving it up to me . I have had some training on 5 s in the past but really dont know where to start 😦 ….. Many thanks

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