Why Red Tags are Important to the 5S Process

5s red tag sample

If your company has embarked on starting a lean program to improve its bottom line, it is a very advisable that you will be implementing 5S into the workplace.

5S offers your production system an opportunity to evaluate its departments and find ways to speed things up, cut out extra inventory, decrease waste, and get the greatest value for the least amount of work.

5s red tag sample

In the first few stages of the 5S process, you and your coworkers will need to sort through each facet of your work environment to determine what should stay, what should go, and what can “wait in the wings,” so to speak. Once you have culled the unneeded inventory, tools, and other obstacles from the necessities to the job, it is important to label each with 5s-specific red tags.  They can be general, or industry-specific (i.e, healthcare, automotive, etc.), and they often come as traditional twist-ties tags or as adhesive-backed stickers – red tagging in 5s.

Once your crew has tagged all of the unneeded equipment, tools, stock, or finished products, it is usually preferable to remove them from the place of work, and place them in a red tag holding area, to be either discarded, given away, or, like in the case of specialty tools, to remain  in the holding area until they are needed.  The main point is to get them out of the way of the workers and to reduce the clutter.

How Red Tags Worked for Us

Several years ago, we implemented 5S in our warehouse because shipping was bottlenecking, and we thought things could be streamlined and improved.  After going through our stock, equipment, and even things like tables, shelving, and where we park our forklifts, we red tagged (we ended up using more of the adhesive stickers than the twist-ties) those things that we determined were probably not necessary to our everyday operations and moved them to or red tag “corral.”  The hardest part was convincing some of the workers that certain things really were not needed.  With those things now out of the way, we started noticing that our warehouse was beginning to run more efficiently.  For example, the forklifts (though we didn’t red tag them) were culprits, in that that they were parked in a place that required our employees to walk around them, in another example, a piece of machinery used for die-cutting was situated where it made more sense to store outgoing shipping packages.

Once we established that things needed to change to make things better, everybody came on-board, and the later stages of the 5S concept were easier to sustain.

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