5S is the basis for managing the manufacturing site

1: Sorting is throwing away unnecessary things

5S (Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Discipline) is the basis of all production activities, including productivity improvement, quality control, and safety management. However, many offices and manufacturing sites are still often in a messy state.

Even if everyone knows the basics, even if they only know the words in their head, they will not improve unless they actually act. Then, what is 5S and seiri seiton in terms of behavior?

Many factory floor managers wonder how they can make their shop floors more organized. The floor is littered with shavings, spilled oil, and sometimes even misplaced tools. As a result, it is often difficult to find the tools you need. I also know the word 5S, and I call on my subordinates to clean up, but it is not easy to clean the work site. “What should I do?”

Specifically, we will work on two things: “Sort” and “Set in order”.

1, “Sort” is to throw away unnecessary things.
“Tagging” is an effective technique. Go around the workplace on a regular basis (say once a month) and mark items you deem unnecessary in red (see Illustration 1). At the next patrol, check to see if anything with a red tag was indeed discarded. If you are unsure, use the yellow tag and wait, for example, three months before deciding whether it is necessary. Be sure to record the patrol records (time, patrol person’s name, tagged items, location, processing results, etc.). The target is everything in the field. These include raw materials, work-in-progress, machines, parts, tools/jigs, desks and office supplies. However, we exclude things such as machinery and raw materials that are clearly necessary for current production. Any tag will do as long as it is hard to tear. There is no particular format, but at least write the date and the name of the patrol.

2,”Set in order” is to be in a state where you can quickly take out what you need when you need it.
First, decide where to put the items. Next, it is important to protect the decided place. For that purpose, the stationary display in “visual management” is helpful (see illustration 2). Once you have decided where the item should be placed, make a clear sign. The trick is to write clearly and in large letters. Color coding is also very effective in clarifying where items are placed. Colors should be chosen so that the classification can be recognized at a glance, such as the primary colors red and yellow. Also, use symbols, pictograms, and symbols to make it easier for everyone to understand.

Rather than vaguely understanding the meaning of the words 5S and tidying up, it is necessary to have an understanding that leads to concrete actions. It’s an understanding like “throw away what you don’t need” or “you can always get what you need”. Even if you simply say “throw it away,” you may feel a sense of resistance that you may need it in the future, that it is a waste, or that you are attached to it. However, even in such a case, it is difficult to make a decision unless you throw it away with the feeling that “it will work out somehow.”


On the other hand, it’s a better way to store the things you don’t need by sorting them into items that you will use today (daily), tomorrow (weekly), and next month (monthly). Classification is also fundamental when it comes to storage locations. Let’s refer to the storefronts of supermarkets and convenience stores. There should be a variety of ingenuity so that you can see at a glance what is where.

2:Cleaning is finding defects in machines

Even if you remember the meaning of 5S in words, it is meaningless if it is not reflected in your actions. In the 5S that leads to action, seiri means “throwing away unnecessary things” and seiton means “being able to take out what you need at any time”. So what is behavioral cleansing and cleanliness?

In the previous section, we learned about organizing and tidying that leads to action. And next, please tell me about “cleanliness”.

Regarding cleaning and cleanliness, let’s consider “cleaning” and “cleanliness” separately.

⑴Cleaning means discovering machine problems
You may ask, “Isn’t cleaning just cleaning?” Indeed, in the original sense, cleaning is to clean and clean. Of course, the basics of “cleaning” is to remove dirt and dust from desks, rooms, factory floors, break rooms, etc. using vacuum cleaners and brooms. However, cleaning of “machinery” (equipment, equipment) is the most important thing in the field.
In addition to questions such as “Is there a machine covered with dust?” . Workers themselves clean and polish the machines with waste cloths and rags, and discover previously unseen gaps, cracks, corrosion, and loose screws. By doing these things, we are thoroughly cleaning.

(2) Cleanliness means to maintain machines and floors by yourself.
In its original sense, it is defined as “maintaining a clean and tidy state.” This means that floors, desks, and machines are always pristine and flaws and defects are easy to find. But let’s think a little deeper. Machines and floors are painted. Factory floors, in particular, should be marked with pedestrian and danger zones. We do this painting ourselves. Of course, a certain amount of expertise is required, so you will receive guidance from a craftsman at first. Periodically, for example, in a continuous operation factory, when the operation is stopped for regular maintenance, in a non-continuous operation factory, every month after work on a specific day I’ll repair. Aiming for a shiny factory, there is also an initiative called “Ozashiki factory”. The floors were polished so that they would not get dirty even when walking in socks, just like in a tatami room at home.

Why do the workers themselves clean the machinery and floors to keep them pristine? The purpose, needless to say, is to have an awareness of protecting one’s workplace with one’s own hands. When you go home, each of you will be cleaning your own house so that you won’t be embarrassed when guests come. If you think of your workplace as your home, cleaning it with your own hands is a matter of course. I am often asked why I do 5S. As mentioned earlier, the specific purpose is to detect equipment abnormalities at an early stage, and to prevent bacteria and foreign matter from entering food factories, etc., but we also want to create a workplace that customers can see at any time. In other words, it is important to create a workplace that is pleasant to work in. Isn’t this enough?

3:Discipline means making 5S a part of your work

What is the 5S of action? Seiri, tidiness, cleaning, and cleanliness have been defined in the previous and second paragraphs. Finally, what is “discipline”? It refers to the activities that should be done as a matter of course by incorporating these four into normal work.

Koishi Leader, who learned about sorting, tidiness, cleaning, and cleanliness that leads to action, actually called on the site and has just started to see some results. However, there is an atmosphere that seems to return again. What can be done to maintain this momentum?

⑴ Why 5S doesn’t last
At the beginning of the 5S activities, you will definitely get results, but eventually you will get tired and return to the original state. Reasons for such failures include:

・Formal orders by management
It is the most common cause of failure. In addition to giving commands, give proper instructions on how and where to organize.

・Easy to get into a rut
5S is a sober job. We always need stimuli and tricks to raise our level.

・Enthusiastic workplaces and supervisors emerge
Do not make exceptions, such as acquiescing to workplaces that do not want to practice 5S.

・Hasty pursuit of results
Take the long-term view, even if there are a few cheats and setbacks.

・Don’t try to use outside power
It is more efficient to receive guidance from outside experts, and outside pressure is also available.

・Neglecting continuous checks
If the 5S PDCA cycle, especially C (Check) and A (Act), are inadequate, temporary results will not be sustained.

・ The secretariat (office) and management neglect 5S
You’ll just lose the trust of the field. Let’s promote 5S from our own standpoint.

(2) How to continue 5S
As with work, a proper PDCA cycle is the basis for continuity.

・ P: Decide on a policy
It is important for the top management to have the determination to work on it as if it were an organizational reform.

・P: Set goals
Show the 5S targets as well as setting targets for annual sales, production volume, profit, etc. Let’s use graded markings for that (Table 1).

・D: Implementation
You can’t just leave it to me. Just like at work, I give instructions and scold where I should scold.

・C: Check progress
Use techniques such as regular patrols, step markings, check sheets, and fixed point photography.

A: Implementation of action
When a goal is achieved, it is rewarded with commendation. If things don’t go your way, instead of just scolding them, think calmly about the cause and take countermeasures.

・Secretariat’s hard work
The hard work of the secretariat who devotes himself to the role of Kuroko in the play and the role of secretary at the banquet has a great influence. Let’s think about various mechanisms such as simultaneous cleaning time, cleaning week, presentations, awards, public relations, meetings, etc.

In a nutshell, the reason why 5S is not continued is because there is a sense that it is unnecessary and it is not positioned as a part of work. In that sense, it would be more appropriate to call it “work” if it’s the same S, rather than the word “discipline” which has moral nuances.

stepsituationnext subject
1Trash, tools and parts were strewn about the floor. The machine is full of dust.Floor tidying and cleaning, machine maintenance.
2Although the floor is cleaned and there are no unnecessary debris on the ground, the pedestrian distinction is blurred and the shelves are disorganized.Clear distinction of channels. Organize shelves.
3Although the aisles have been clarified and the equipment has been cleaned, the arrangement of the shelves is still insufficient.Organize the shelves in all directions.
4The division of the work area has been clarified, and the shelves have also been organized, but the location identification (where is what) is not comprehensive enough.Clarify the location of shelves and storage areas, and organize the location identification of tools and parts.
5The shelves are clearly marked and well maintained, and they are neat and organized no matter when you check them.Get rid of the root cause of the mess.
6The root cause of the mess was removed, and the entire factory was sparkling clean.Keep shiny and clean.