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5S is a simple approach to obtaining a Lean Manufacturing environment. The 5 phases of 5S are as follows:
Phase 1 - Seiri (Sorting): This process gets rid of any unnecessary tools and equipment items from the workarea. Unnecessary items are either discarded or stored.
Phase 2 - Seiton (Set in Order): This process is about organizing work areas for maximum efficiency. Tools & equipment are organized to promote optimum work flows with minimal movement.
Phase 3 - Seisō (Sweeping): This phase requires maintaining a clean & tidy workplace, as well as machinery. This disciplined approach requires that when each shift ends, work areas are tidied and tools and equipment are returned to their designated locations. This should be carried out every day, rather than once in a while, or when the work space becomes disorganized.
Phase 4 - Seiketsu (Standardizing): Work practices should be followed in a uniform and consistent manner. Many companies have followed the first three phases, only to let conditions slowly deteriorate. The “Standardize” part of the 5S makes sure this does not happen. There should be a system (typically checklists and documented instructions) in place that details maintenance of equipment or work spaces, more specifically: what needs to be done, when it must be done, by whom and where.
Phase 5 - (Sustain the system): The process of sustaining the system is considered to be the more difficult to accomplish. Maintaining a strong focus on 5S is essential so as not to slip back into old habits. One method to sustain the system is to carry out regular audits. The 5S system relies on staff involvement and commitment at every level.