What is 5S

5S is a methodical and effective way to organise your workplace to make it more efficient, it is not just housekeeping as some believe but a highly effective tool that removes or greatly reduces the 7 wastes of lean manufacturing from your work environment. It has been developed by the Japanese as part of the philosophy known as lean manufacturing and contributes to the success of companies such as Toyota.

5S Lean Manufacturing


5S Seiri or Sort

The first stage of 5S is that of Seiri, or Sort in English. 5S Seiri is about the team removing all clutter from the work environment; they go through every part of the workplace and remove everything that is not required for the day to day functioning of the cell. Items that are clearly junk should be thrown away (observing any company recycling policies), and other items that have clear value or the team is not sure about should be moved to a quarantine area.

5S Seiri Red Tag

Items that are too large or too dangerous to be removed should have a “red tag” affixed to them by the 5S team if they are not required in the area, a “red tag” should also be used to identify those items within the area that require repair.

5S Auction

The items within the 5S quarantine (or crime watch) area and any related “red tag” items should then be “auctioned”, all people that have an involvement in the area should be gathered together to decide the disposition of the items in the quarantine. If items are agreed to be junk they should be thrown, otherwise they should be returned to the correct places in the workplace, either the cell they came from, or another area or even stored away somewhere else if they are rarely used.

The disposition of “red tag” items should also be decided, repair, remove, or relocate as necessary by those with the skills to do so such as the maintenance team.

Completion of 5S Sort

At the end of this stage of 5S, you will be left with a workplace that only contains the items required, all unnecessary clutter and junk will have been removed.

Next 5S stage

Following on from 5S Seiri, the next stage is Seiton or “set in order”, where you will organise the items remaining in an efficient and logical manner to ensure the safe and ergonomic functioning of the workplace.