Thursday, January 24, 2008

5S - it sounds so easy - but is very difficult to implement

When you hear about 5S the first time, you might think that it sounds easy to implement. But soon you will realize that 5S is difficult to implement - and even more difficult to maintain and improve!

5S stands for
  1. Sort: Sort work place in ”in use” and ”not in use”.
  2. Set in order: Put items in system.
  3. Shine: Procedure for cleanliness.
  4. Standardize: Procedure for how to leave the workplace.
  5. Sustain: Ingraining into culture.
Possible results implementing 5S
  • Improves ergonomics.
  • Improves safety – no disorder.
  • Improves quality – right tools for the right parts and processes.
  • Gives pride to the work place.
  • Easier to take over a work place from a colleague.
  • Reduces changeover times.
  • Gives a visible overview of work place – tools, parts, fixtures etc.
  • Time spent on searching is reduced.
  • Reduces demand for space.
  • Improves productivity.
Challenges when implementing 5S

Some of the challenges are:
  • The cultural change. It many companies it is widely "accepted" to borrow tools etc. from each other work tables - without returning them. It is also accepted to spend a lot of time searching for the same tools when they are needed. In these companies it is a huge cultural change to implement 5S.
  • In many companies it is normal to have "personal tools". Meaning that tools are personal and that they employees are responsible for the tools. With 5S tools are no longer personal but belong to work stations.
  • It is a great challenge to maintain a high 5S level. At good way is to appoint a 5S patrol consisting of employees from different departments. They should then audit each department e.g. monthly.
REMEMBER that 5S is a good test of the capability in the organization to implement Lean. If an organization is not able to maintain a high 5S level the same organization can not run Kanban, measure OEE etc.

By Mikkel Smith
Flexkom - download Lean tools online >
Flexkom Lean Academy - Scandinavian Lean Course Website >

6 comments:

Chris said...

Hi the company I work for curently has 5 different levels of 5S (just the beginning, focus on the basics, make it visual, focus on reliability, and continuous improvement). I have not seen or heard of any other company using different levels for each 'S'. It seems more confusing than anything, and I was wondering what your thoughts were having levels or just 5S?
Chris H.

Your Lean Forum said...

Hi Chris,
Sorry for this late reply! I haven't seen you comment till yesterday!
Many companies use different levels of 5S. You are right that it is all about 5S! But to visualize the levels of 5S in different departments it can be good to have levels. I also find it confusing with 5 levels, as it might be misunderstood. I normally use three levels - bad, average and good.
One thing is the different levels. It is more important that there is a continuous development towards a higher level of 5S! Here the levels can be good to ensure a development.
Good luck!
Best regards,
Mikkel Smith

five s said...

This is a very helpful website. The 5S is what we practice in work too. It's really helpful and it increases productivity. I was wondering if you could also post pictures of actual examples of 5S companies and corporations?

5s said...

This is really informative. My Dad asked me to search on 5s, though i am not really sure if this is what he's referring to anyhow I am sharing the page sine this is really informative.

Kaikaku said...

Looking for 5S templates and examples.
Kaikaku

Anonymous said...

Maybe there are some helpful files here http://www.flexkom.dk/setprice.asp?page=3
Good luck!