5S stands for Sort, Set-in-order, Shine, Stabilize, and Sustain.
5S is typically used as a method for organizing space and materials—whether a factory floor with manufacturing supplies, a desk with papers on it, office storage space, or a crash cart with its medical supplies.
5S can also be used as a method for operational organization, with efficiency, effectiveness, and clear order guiding the work being done. For example, a 5S could be used to streamline what products or services a company provides or the patient intake process a hospital uses (free registration required).
The benefits of 5S:
- everything is in the right place at the right time in the right amount so that work can flow.
- work is within reach, so we don’t have to stretch and stoop and reach.
- removing unnecessary items reduces clutter and confusion.
- sets the foundation for any improvement because it forces people to think through, organize, and standardize their work processes. From that standardized baseline, improvement can begin.
- creates standards and expectations for how the work should be done so everyone can see at a glance whether things are right or wrong with the work. 5S helps people quickly identify any waste that creeps back into the system.
- “What is needed? What is not?”
- Sort through all items in area
- Keep what is needed
- Identify items that are not needed
- Reduce inventory to the number needed at any given time
- “A place for everything and everything in its place”
- Identify new locations for items based on usage, size, weight (if applicable), etc.
- Arrange every item so it can be found and used easily
- Also known as “sweep,” this step is an opportunity review and inspect the work
- Clean the workplace
- Use cleaning as inspection of the workspace and equipment
- Keep workplace safe and easy to work
- Make the new workspace organization standard work
- Keep the workspace clean and orderly
- Display visual guides (pictures, diagrams, or signs) that show how the workspace should look and where things are
- Everyone can “do without being told”—the standard work and work organization are routine
- Regularly check to ensure against slipping back into old habits
- These new standards are now the basis for improvement and the next cycle of 5S