It is the dream of every organization to have an orderly and well organized work environment. Due to the high number of people involved and the tens of equipments and tools in use, this requires skills and effective management.
The 5S technique is an adoption of Japanese principle of good housekeeping. It aims at maintaining a cleaner, safer, orderly and organized work environment. The aim is to inspire the workforce and provide a continuous flow of activities without the unnecessary interruptions brought forth by disorder.
What it stands for
The 5S technique is borrowed from the Japanese words; these being seiri, seito, seiso, seiketsu and shitsuke. Each of this word represents a concept that further aims at universal visual order which is believed to be the basis of excellence. These concepts have broad application and although they were initially designed for a manufacturing environment they can be adopted by hospitals, restaurants or any other company. The aim is to create efficiency and get the work done in an easy way that reduces time and space wastage. Although 5S may be assumed to be just a campaign for order and cleanliness it is more than this, it infuses a sense of efficiency, perseverance, attention to detail and ability to sort through what is and what is not important.
This is the first key step of the technique and urges the removal of all non essential items from the office and only leaving what will be put into use. The aim is to create space for what is needed and the basic rule in this is that if there is a doubt on the use of certain item then its means it is not essential and should be thrown away.
Set in order (seiri)
This is a crucial step that calls for careful arranging of the items within the working areas. Arranging the items, apart from creating order, makes it easier for access. Labeling can also aid greatly in identification.
It is important that the work area be swept clean regularly. The basic essence of this is to have everything in good condition and ready to be used by everyone. This is also a chance to inspect everything and ensure every item is where it is supposed to be and in good condition.
Standardization involves the definition of parameters so that the normal working condition is known and any abnormality can be traced and corrected. These standards should be well communicated to all staff so that they participate in maintaining normalcy.
This refers to putting measures in place to ensure the set norm is maintained in all operations and for a long time. The solutions came up with must be implemented so as to address the root causes of any abnormality. This involves the training of all employees on how to put into practice the set principles and visual management techniques to improve efficiency and productivity.