A 5S Program is a group of principles and activities that seek cleaner, organized, free of clog and safety hazard work areas. The five steps of housekeeping transform the work areas into easy to workspaces because they contain visual instructions that promote the organization and make it easy to recognize when standards are not followed. The program itself is one of the foundations of Lean Manufacturing.
- Sort – The first step is about sorting all materials and tools between necessary and non-necessary to complete the task or work of that area.
- Set in Order – After we decided what we need on the area, on the second step a location and quantity is assigned for each one. We need to have a place for everything and everything should be returned to its place after being used.
- Shine – The third step looks for a thorough cleaning and inspection. The inspection is the more important part, the objective is to identify any possible source for the dirt and fix it. Leaks, loose bolts, broken belts, previous quick fixes, and others are identified and fixed while cleaning.
- Standardize – During the fourth step, managers and supervisors need to create rules, procedures, and standards to ensure we keep doing the first three steps constantly. Within those checklists and procedures, we need to establish what is needed, how it is done, who is responsible and how often. Rules to replenish materials, the maximum amount of work in process (WIP) is also determined on this step.
- Sustain – The last S is the most difficult one because involves discipline. Managers and supervisors need to be persistent. Employees participation is vital, without their ideas, help, and participation through every step of the way; the success of this program won’t be possible.
5S Events are one of my favorite Lean events because the steps are easy to follow and the program can be used anywhere, including home. This program is clearly focused on the employees and their working conditions and as soon as they start working with it, they understand that.