Importance Of 5S In Six Sigma

Many Lean Six Sigma professionals have a conception that the term 5S is a tool, but in reality it is much more than that. The concept of 5S aims at developing a culture within an organization which focuses on instant and continuous improvement in the work environment and working conditions. The word 5S is abbreviated from five Japanese words Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke. The Japanese have designed and developed this simple and effective concept. It was termed as 5S because all these Japanese words started with alphabet “S”. The 5 Japanese words in English indicate Sort [Seiri], Straighten [Seiton], Shine [Seiso], Standardize [Seiketsu] and Sustain [Shitsuke]. One close similarity between the Japanese words and English words are that these five words start with alphabet “S” in both languages.
The English version of 5S became popular all over the world as it is a universally known language. The 5S concept is not confined to a specific sector, these concepts can be applied in manufacturing sectors, office areas, and information systems. To implement it successfully within an organization, it is important that each and every member of the organization participate while this concept is implemented. While implementing 5S concept, organizations must ensure that these concepts are implemented in a sequential order to make 5S a practice and a success. They must also understand that 5s concepts are not a one-time affair, these concepts must be practiced by the members of the organization on an everyday basis and must be a part of their everyday duties or routines. In the following paragraphs, we will be explaining about 5S words in detail and how these concepts can be inducted in an organization in five simple steps.
Step 1: Sort [Seiri]
In this step, the 5s concept practitioner has the responsibility to go through all the equipments, tools and resources they have and determine which equipment or resources have to be retained on the work floor and which resources have to be eliminated. When they find tools that are not relevant to their work they can simply place back that equipment to the storeroom or return them back to the concerned departments. If they feel that some resources need to be completely eliminated from the workspace, then they have to put a red tag on that particular item and get authorization or permission from their senior officials before they dispose it or recycle the item. In simple words, the practitioner has to segregate the important or useful things from the unnecessary thing and discard the unnecessary.
Step 2: Straighten [Seiton]
In this step, the 5S practitioner has to re-organize their workplace after eliminating unnecessary tools and equipment. Here the practitioner follows the simple philosophy of “a place for everything, and everything in its place”. This will help the other staff members locate the required resources easily and swiftly. This concept can be applied to any sector. In other words, the practitioner of 5S concepts arranges all the resources and tools in a systematic manner.
Step 3: Shine [Seiso]
In this step, the practitioner ensures that the equipment and tools are tidy and they can be readily used by other staff members. If this concept is applied in the information technology sector, then the practitioner has the responsibility to delete all the irrelevant files and folders and clean the file system. In simple words, this concept focuses on tidiness and cleanliness at the workplace.
Step 4: Standardize [Seiketsu]
The practitioner can combine similar work activities in their facility and allot a workspace for that particular process in the work facility. For instance, if there are five lathe machines scattered across different locations doing the same work, then the practitioner can place all these units at one place so that better results can be achieved through constant monitoring of work processes. This concept can be applied in any sector to reduce the redundancy.
Step 5: Sustain [Shitsuke]
This is the final step or stage in 5S concept implementation. In this stage, the practitioner has to ensure that tools, equipments and resources are in neat and tidy condition and they are placed where they are meant to be.
When 5S concepts are fully implemented within an organization, it not only reduces the waste but it also increases the morale of the employees thereby enhancing their efficiency, and it also leaves a positive impression on the consumer. Though, 5S concepts were designed for housekeeping system, but these concepts can be implemented everywhere irrespective of company type.
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