When you think of a 5S factory, what comes to mind? Do you think simply about organization or does your mind paint a picture of a fully functional, well-ordered, and efficiently run work environment? If you are thinking the second option is correct, you are on the right track. When it comes to a factory or industrial work facility that has fully implemented the practices of 5S, it will not be limited to only organization; instead, 5S tactics will be evident right from the entrance of the facility and carry on throughout. The workspace will be neat and tidy, the tools and equipment will be well organized and easily accessible, and there will also be appropriate safety guidelines posted throughout the facility. 5S is truly a multifaceted practice that should be weaved throughout each and every area of a work facility in order to be as beneficial as possible.
5S in a Nutshell
For those of us who are not very familiar with the practice of 5S, the Japanese concept focuses on a set of five tactics which involve improving safety, organization, effectiveness, and efficiency in the workplace. They are as follows:
- Seiri = Sort: This tactic refers to keeping an organized workspace by sorting through tools and keeping needed items while discarding unneeded items.
- Seiton = Straighten: Neatness and orderliness are the objectives of this tactic. Tools and equipment should be easily accessible to employees and kept in appropriate locations. Everything should have a place.
- Seiso = Shine: Cleanliness is key with this tactic. Work areas should be cleaned daily, so dirt and grime are not able to build up.
- Seiketsu = Standardize: Consistency and control are important. Employees know and understand their responsibilities and fulfill them as expected in order to keep standards up to date and in place.
- Shitsuke = Sustain: This last concept basically means to maintain the above standards by keeping the facility both safe and efficient at all times. It is easy to fall back into old, ineffective ways and the tactic of sustain means to make sure the 5S practices stay in place.
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What are the Benefits of 5S?
When an organization implements the practice of 5S, the benefits are virtually limitless. However, some of the top benefits include having a safe work environment due to a clean and tidy workspace. When workspaces are organized and in order there are fewer occurrences of accidents and injuries. Furthermore, production and financial health also naturally increase as there is less time spent looking for misplaced tools and equipment. In addition, job satisfaction is also heightened as employees enjoy as well-operated work environment with increased communication. However, one important feature to remember is the fifth “S” which is sustain. Many times it is easy to turn back to old, ineffective habits; however, it is vital to keep practicing the components of 5S in order to maintain true efficiency.
The implementation of 5S is a great way to also incorporate the concept of lean. Lean manufacturing is on a very similar platform as 5S. Lean really focuses on eliminating waste to enhance productivity and safety. Even though the task of implementing 5S may be a big undertaking, it is well worth the effort and will prove its benefits once implementation as begun. A 5S factory is a true inspiration in the industrial work sector.