What is 5S and Why Do Companies Need It?

Operational Excellence,

Companies often struggle to improve efficiencies and wonder how best to go about maximising value while reducing waste.

With the help of the 5s principles, a business can accomplish these goals without spending a lot of money to do so. The 5s principles are part of the lean manufacturing system developed by Toyota, yet any company can implement them with ease and see great results upon doing so. What is 5s and how does it work?


What does 5s stand for? This is often the first question of business owners looking into the system. The 5s principles are sort, set in order, shine, standardise, and sustain. Each step builds on the previous one, with the goal being to increase productivity while eliminating waste. First, users sort the work area and then designate a spot for each item that remains. Once this has been done, the workplace is cleaned, the system is standardised so everyone completes tasks the same way, and then a routine is established to ensure the system is maintained at all times.


Business owners frequently wonder how to implement the 5s methodology, and those struggling to do so may wish to take advantage of 5s professional development for their workplace. As the company waits for the course to begin, certain steps can be taken to make the process easier. A team should be established and include members from any department that will be taking part in the program. The facility should be toured to see where changes may be needed. The course will explain how to make the necessary changes, yet the team can brainstorm and try to come up with ideas that may be of benefit during the process also.


Companies often wonder what types of wastes may be eliminated by making use of these principles. Do employees ever spend time searching for a part that they can’t find and end up asking another employee to assist them in locating the needed item? The system minimises or eliminates both waste of motion and searching waste, along with waste created by unsafe conditions. This type of waste comes about when items are left out in the open and someone is injured as a result of the items being put in the wrong place. These are only a few of the many examples of waste which can be reduced by making use of the 5s principles of lean manufacturing.


Businesses find there are numerous benefits to making use of the 5s principles in the workplace. First and foremost, use of these principles establishes a foundation for continuous improvement that may be built on. Employees become more involved in the company as they gain more responsibility and they tend to acquire a sense of ownership in their work and the business. The improvements in morale, quality, and productivity lead to increased profitability for the company and safety, likewise, improves. Every aspect of the business benefits as a result of the implementation of the principles.

Again, what is 5s? Once companies understand the principles and the purpose of implementing these principles, the next step is to actually begin the process. Business owners need to determine which they are most comfortable with and take advantage of professional development in this area. Doing so offers an excellent return on the company’s investment, as waste is minimised, value is created, and productivity improves. As a result, every area of the business benefits.

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