5S Methodology - 5S Workplace organization technique

What is 5s? || Elements of 5S || How to effectively implementation 5S? || 5S Red Tag || 5S Audit || 5S audit Procedure || 5S Scoring Table || 5S Assessment Report

In recent years, organizations are well aware of modern techniques and methods to implement quality management and adopting advance systems like total quality management, lean manufacturing, material flow cost accounting etc., to enhance capability of individuals and processes. 5S is one of most widely opted techniques is commonly used among the organizations from various segment in the world in order to enhance productivity and human capability. It is commonly studies that implementation of 5S methodology could considerably raise the health, safety, housekeeping as well as environmental performance in manufacturing facility. Because 5S methodology and its processes are dedicated to cleanliness and standardization in workplace through structured program to systematically achieve well organized workplace, as result you can achieve safer, efficient and more productive workplace.

What is 5s?

"5S is work culture practices for maintaining workplace organized by a systematic and disciple method that uses an acronym of five Japanese works which stand for Seiri (Short), Seiton (set in order), Seiso (Shine), Seiketsu (Standardization) and Shitsuke (Sustain)."

5S mean, Good housekeeping techniques for enhancing productivity, quality and safety at the workplace. Many organizations are already practiced the 5S and achieved significant benefits from effectively implemented all stages in workplace. If you are implementing total quality management or lean manufacturing, you have to initially and fundamental step implement as 5S to track the continuous improvement as operational level.

Why good housekeeping?

But, 5S is more than housekeeping, it is system to reduce waste and optimize productivity through sustaining a systematic workstation and using visual indications to achieve more stable operational results, because operational stability required for making and sustaining continuous improvements in workplace.

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Elements of 5S

5S methodology represents five basic disciplines for maintaining a visual workplace which is foundational to continuous improvement and manufacturing strategic concept to removing waste and well organized manufacturing facility. The five stages - shorting, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain that are also known as 5 elements of a visual workplace. So, let's see all five elements of 5S:

  1. Short- Short our items and discard the unnecessary.
  2. Set in Order- A place for everything and everything is in its place.
  3. Shine- Clean your workplace thoroughly.
  4. Standardize- Maintain Standard.
  5. Sustain- 5S is a habit and is continually improved.

How to effectively implementation 5S?

Core Team

To effectively implement any system in organization, need to build a strategic method and team to conduct all activities of systems reach at all the level of organization, and establishment of core team is one of the initial step of 5S system. The core team leads the 5S system process, and involvement of workmen in core team from various workplaces helps to improve floor level knowledge and understanding which is extremely important to manage 5S tasks from paper to ground level. Because 5S system focus on well-organized workplace, everyone's opinion, responsibility and authority must be defined of core team, and with all the people of workplace are also responsible for support and maintain standards around its work.

5S elements:

  1. Short

  2. The first stage of the 5S system is short, states to the act of segregate away all unwanted, unnecessary and unrelated materials in the workplace. Simple meaning of this stage is to short out between wanted and unwanted items at workplace and removal of unwanted item. It is also initial cleaning stage where all the not-needed items are elimination required for better organize remain items.

    Why is it important?

    Implementation Method

    » You have to decide what materials / items are necessary and which materials / items are unnecessary or unwanted. To identification of uncecessary items you should not only verify the floor but also at your around your workplace.
    » Very important is "Red Tag", put a red tag on all unwanted items and keep them in a separate location.
    » If any item(s) you used once or twist time in 6 to 12 months may located at a distance from your workplace.
    » Any item(s) used frequently should be available and accessible at a central point in the workplace.
    » Any item(s) are not in used since one year, discard it.

    The short refers to the practices of going through all the tools, equipment, devices, materials, papers etc., in the workplace and keeping only useful materials, that you remove all items from the workplace that are not needed for current operations and manufacturing transactions it does not mean that you only eliminate that items that you know you may never requirement, materials which is not currently in use it should store offsite or discarded.

    Red Tag

    A red tag is strategic method of identifying and removing all unnecessary items from the workplace through the use of red tag as a visual control. Red tag is simple tag; the goal is to remove nonessential materials from workplace. It is simply putting red tag for all potentially unwanted materials and moving it into a red tag area, red tagging helps in identifying and disposing unwanted materials with due accountability and authentication. See RED TAG example:

    Red tag for 5S, 5s red tag template, 5s red tag sample, 5S red tag process, 5S red tag format, 5s red tag form, 5s red tag examples, 5s red tag procedure

    The materials / items are red tagged and stored in a red tag area for a specific time period, in case anyone can request for any item if there is anything need otherwise it should be disposes through recycling, trash or resale.

    What red tag indicate?

    Action on Red Tagged Items: Table

    Disposal Sell or Return Lend Out Central Re-tag Area Distribute
    Items that are unnecessary or useless should be disposed / throw it away from workplace as scrap. You can sell to other companies or local vendors that are not in use, or unneeded for any purpose. if the option available with your supplier, you can return it. Lend items / materials to other department or division of the organization that can use them on an any operation Move items to the central red-tag holding area for redistribution storage or disposal. You can distribute items to any other part of the company on a permanent basis.

    Benefits of Short - 5S stage one

    Audit Checklist for short - 5S Stage: 01

    Do you find items scattered in your workplace, mean are there items such as obsoleted or unused signage and documentation on floors, callings, walls, table etc.., within the area?
    Is there any unnecessary or excess equipment and device? Is there obsolete or duplicated storage in the workplace?
    Are their equipment and tools placed on the floor?
    Are there boxes, papers and other items left in a disorganized way?
    Are there items in the workplace area which require achieving or have exceeded their lifetime?
    Is it recognizable which items are marked as unnecessary. Has a Red Tag implementation or similar between conducted or recently concluded?
    Are all items sorted out and placed in designated spots?
    Are tools and stationary properly sorted and stored?
    Is uncontrolled personal equipment / device or belongings in the direct work area? Is there discarded personal protective equipment within the workplace area?
    Review and use the item disposition list as the criteria for red tagging, is there red tag included area, mark the location, identify a red tag specific location manager write and post standards and rules for item disposition.

  3. Short

  4. Set in order or systematic arrangement is second stage of 5S system. Set in order / Seiton is A rational, orderly and methodical arrangement of all items we use, re-work or write off. Honestly, peoples say about set in order - "Place for everything and everything in its place", I think is great quote for this stage.

    The goal of second stage of 5S system is every thinks in the right places or set up so that they are readily available and easily accessible for use, its eliminate searching of particular thing needs for current operation. Here three basic fundamentals of this stage are: (1) Organize items in such a manner that they are easy to available, visible, accessible and easy to use. (2) Sign / labelling them so that they are easy to find and put back. (3) A place for all necessary items and everything in its place, no more homeless items.

    The core team must come together to analyze the workplace area for further improvement opportunities and understand the situation to reduce sources of waste and mistakes as well as to make the workplace more visually instructive. The team must focus on some basic points such as given as below:

    Implementation Method

    » First of all, you have to decide the right place for everything, or any item you have to put on the rack, cabinet or at any place, reassign spaces if necessary.
    » Deploy all materials, devices, tools, equipment etc., at a place specified or allocated to them with proper label.
    » Indicate / sign / label or numbers of maximum and minimum to alert in case of over load stock situation.
    » Use floor pain marking to define working area, gangways, entry - exit ways, safety equipment, locations etc.., this clearly identifies the location of equipment and also warns people passing by not get too close.
    » Maintain standards in color coding, specifically for pipelines, water lines, gas lines etc. for equipment, machinery specific color is also recommended.
    » Overhead crane, water tanks, chemical / or any liquid tanks etc., must be capacity defined and marked on visible writing.
    » Use display cautions, messages, instructions at proper places at height and written clearly.

    Benefits of set in order

    Audit Checklist for set in order - 5S Stage: 02

    Every workplace i.e. whole organization map / layout must be preparing with identified work area that clearly mentioned gangways, manufacturing areas, storage area, recycling area etc.., because layout also helps to moving large items or moving heavy quantitative items much easier if each space is properly indicated. Verify the same.
    Are there materials, tools, files or any other media arranged in a manner that ensures repetition of storage with no duplication?
    Are storage areas: Racks, Cabinet, Floor etc., clearly identified as specific allocation? Are walkways clearly identified? Are there supplies (labels, tags, bins etc..) identified?
    At facility, maintenance, store, operations etc., plant marking standards determined?
    Is it clearly described which item is currently used in processes? Are there processes to ensure that achieved items are easily retrievable?

  5. Shine

  6. Shine mean clean workplace. Includes the cleaning of everything in the work area and keeping it clean. Bright place where everyone will enjoy working. Keep everything in top condition, so that when someone need to use something, it is ready to be used. But during the cleaning processes it must take care, each member should be equipped with adequate cleaning materials that have been tested to make sure the solution will not harm any equipment, machine or work place. It is expected that treat cleaning as an inspection process, perform cleaning & inspection to understand work environments on daily basis.

    Implementation Method

    » Determine the goal of shine, set up the targets and focus on area where needs to implement.
    » Make the division of total workplace area and allocate responsibility for cleaning for each divided area.
    » Decide on cleaning points, order of cleaning, type of cleaning and cleaning aid required etc.
    » Setup an effective schedule and assign individuals, as well as display cleaning schedule at appropriate location.
    » Prepare proper procedure for continued daily shine processes.
    » To focus on safety requirements: every team member who performing this task must be equipped with safety tools and personal protective equipment.
    » Check specific equipment targets for necessary repairs and replace anything if need.
    » During the perform cleaning processes, make sure the defective conditions such as loose wires, loose bolts and nuts, vibrations, excessive sound, temperature etc., in case found talk with maintenance superior for further actions if you are not belonging to maintenance.
    » Move the dust, materials removed during the cleaning from various area store at specified / allocated dump yard.
    » Shine and inspect through cleaning every shift.

    Benefits of shine

    Audit Checklist for Shine - 5S Stage: 03

    Are there 5S (Shine) schedules & checking & auditing schedules are defined? responsibility & locations are defined, make sure all workmen know their assignments? Verify individual involvement in the process?
    Are the workplaces, equipment, machinery etc., kept clean & shine and free from uncontrolled waste?
    Determine appropriate cleaning method, processes are prepared? And peoples are follow it? People understand it?
    Are the schedules & planning are performing initial cleaning of targets using the initial cleaning plan?
    Are at information locations and notice boards kept up to date?
    Are floor areas being clean, undamaged, without slippery? Verify to consider safety requirements.

  7. Standardize

  8. This aspect of the 5S focuses on standardization, it is the outcomes that exists when the first three pillars - sort, set in order and shine are properly maintained and constant routine. This stage of 5S, forming a consistent way of implementing the tasks that are performed on a day-to-day basis with all first three stages of 5S. Standardization maintained through:

    You have to establish a work environment and structure that will support the modern practices and turn them into regular tasks / habits. The main purpose of 5S's fourth stage "standardization" is to ensure that everyone in the organization strictly follows the same standard operating procedure, the same names of materials / products, the same name of specifications, sizes, signalization, marking, shape and color etc.

    The goal of standardization is to establish best practices and to get each member follow standards during implementation and improve workplace practices accordingly. To effectively implement standardization, you have to define roles and responsibilities for each team member and it must be clearly and consistently applied. The important tasks in the 5S system is 5S communication board, where all the information are needs to display for all peoples of organization, se example picture:

    5s communication board examples, 5s communication board format, 5s communication board design, 5s communication board layout

    Implementation method

    » Prepare documented procedures / operations SOPs, work instructions and guidelines for initial stages such as shorting, set in order and shine for the visual workplace.
    » To maintain standards, make the audit checklist for each department, section and division as well as train your people in using them.
    » 5S evaluation is one of the important tasks of 5S system, carry out monthly, quarterly or periodic evaluation by verify and using the audit checklists.
    » Visual management is best part to implement and to act faster for such as: Labels at each material, tanks, equipment, chemical storage areas etc.
    » Identify and categorize a condition to standardize.
    » During the periodic 5s evaluation, needs to discover new potential control ideas as floor condition. Choose, test and implement control ideas at appropriate locations.
    » Maintain & monitor those conditions and standards defined.
    » 5S system related activities should be planned and schedule at the frequency rate necessary to maintain a clean, orderly and safe working environment.

    Benefits of standardize

    Audit Checklist for Standardize - 5S Stage: 04

    Is the workplace assumed control methods, are there people easily understand and follows accordingly? Is there you found any leakage in standard appearance in workplace? Are all information centers or 5S communication board used as important points for information?
    Is there working environment, climate setup is proper such as temperature, lighting, ventilation, humidity etc.? is workplace is well enough to be clear of heavy dust? Is there lighting angles are properly set to comfort for work?
    Is the first shorting, set in order and shine are being maintained? Are we operating within the rules that setup & agreed?
    All the people working in workplace are wear clothing which is clean and undamaged? Is personal protective equipment worm as prescribed?

  9. Sustain

  10. To sustain means to make a habit of properly maintaining correct procedures. Sustain also means discipline. It indicates your assurance to sustain regularity and to practice first 4s as a way of life. This also requires that your employees' demonstration optimistic attentiveness & overcome resistance to change. The stage focus that the 5S mentality is embedded in routine in works and procedures. Some simple points that helps to understand & implement procedure for 5S - sustain:

    5S audit processes must establish into practice to ensure that all the stages of 5S are properly function and maintained workplace organized as top priority as well as ensuring that the routines & schedules are conducts as specified standardization.

    Benefits of sustain

    Audit Checklist for Sustain - 5S Stage: 05

    Is there sustaining plan is prepared? And ensure that management support for the plan?
    Whether everyone in the workplace area know about the 5S standards and their purpose? Are people within the workplace trained in key procedures and practices as well? Are there all the procedures are update regularly and reviewed?
    Is there all equipment, tools, bill of materials, information, files, etc., are stored correctly?
    Is there 5S communication board and other communication devices are set and update regularly? Is there information is easy for understand and readable?

5S Audit

In the 5S methodology, audit is important part of the whole system to ensure that processes established during all 5 activities, standardization continues to be maintained. To sustain all 5S activities in organization need periodic monitoring through audit scores, share information on 5S communication board to declare results of improvements. 5S audit is not just audit, its monitoring and improvement must be involved in audit processes, it also verifies the involvement of employees, and engage them in evaluating area outside their workplace, providing support for other workplaces.

5S audit deployment process Flow

Prepare 5S annual plan (Document: zonal list, Previous 5S score, all shifts record, External visitor comments)
Prepare 5S audit schedule (Document: List of qualified 5S auditors)
Define department wise 5S auditor schedule (Including all shifts)
Display, distribute confirmed 5S audit schedule to the concerned member
Conduct 5S audit as per schedule
Is there any audit score less than 90%, prepare corrective action requests records and handover to department leader?
Submit corrective action report with action plan and verify disposition / corrective actions.
Verify effectiveness of corrective actions taken and timely completion of action decide.
Is there it is found satisfactory than close non conformities, otherwise re-request for corrective actions should submitted and same processes must be repeated until close non conformities.

5S audit Procedure - General

5S layered annual audit plan is initial stage of the audit function, generally A 5S annual audit plan shall be prepared by 5S coordinator to involved all department, sections and workplaces as per defined scope of 5S implementation. During the planning section there is two things very important are: (1) scope of the audit - listing department, areas and locations (2) define frequency of the auditors of various layers of the management.
To covered up all the departments, zone and sections of the organization sufficient auditors must be selected and perform its task accordingly. the 5S leader must prepare master list of qualified auditors as well define the auditors' audit areas to independently each auditor performs its responsibility for the area being audited.
5S audit planning is responsibility of Auditors, auditors must verify and review of relevant audit checklist and all previous findings, corrective actions and updated checklist.
5S audits initially focus on intension of measuring the 5S score in compliance with quality system procedures, work instructions, organization policy, specific checklist and 5S standard.
5S auditors shall record all findings in the audit checklist as per list of audit checklists. They shall raise the corrective action report to be provided to the department head in case of any individual score is under the sufficient score line.
The auditee (appropriate department head) must take action to correct non compliances found during an audit. The department of the audit or non-compliance report shall be signed off by the department head (auditee) upon completion of the planned action & then provide to MR (Management Representative).
The auditee shall initiate the corrective action with in specifically defined limit of submission of action plan and compliances.
The 5S representative / auditor will check that the corrective action has been taken & has been effective in eliminating the root cause of the original non-compliance observation and if so, will close out the issue by signing the report.
5S representative or auditor will decide, if any more action required at appropriate locations against non-compliance found.

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5S Scoring (Simple Scoring) : Table

Score Stage of readiness
1 Not at All
2 Little done in that respect
3 It is done but not systematically
4 This is being complied with more systematically
5 There is an ability to maintain it

5S Assessment Report: Table

Score Percentage Assessment
Less than 30 Less than 25% You are not aware about the usefulness of 5S
More than 30 & Less than 60 More than 25% and less than 50% You are randomly practicing 5S
More than 60 & Less than 90 More than 50% & Less than 75% You are on the right track. if your score is close to 90 then you have fully implemented first 4S. At this stage your workplace should have a general appearance of orderliness and cleanliness.
More than 90 & upto 120 More than 75% & upto 100% Your management is committed to maintain 5S and employees are showing positive interest in 5S activities.


Here I tried to cover all the 6 S = 5S + 1S (Safety) to complete solution for workplace. There is one of the most important is management role in the whole system, without the management commitment it is hard to implement. By the way 5S is a methodical process for establishing and maintaining an organized, clean and high performance workplace. If you started or wish to establish 5S system in your organization, you can write me for any suggestion required from me, I will please to help you in this regard.

First Published On Date: Friday, August 08, 2017 05:15 AM

Author: ARUN RAVAL | Business & Systems Analyst