The 5S methodology is a systematic approach to workplace organization. This method includes the five steps of Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. Generally speaking, the steps of 5S involve going through items in a workspace, removing what’s unnecessary, organizing items, cleaning, performing maintenance, and making sure these things become habits. These steps should occur in this order, and there must be a plan in place for performing the tasks associated with these steps on a regular basis. At the end of of a 5S implementation you will see characteristic things such as policy manuals, glow-in-the-dark tape or photoluminescent tape on the floor, colored bins, red tags, and 5S walks taking place. In the end, it should all add up to efficiency.
The 5S methodology originated in Japan and was first implemented by the Toyota Motor Corporation. The methodology was developed as a way to make just in time (JIT) manufacturing possible. This type of manufacturing intends to produce only the amount of a product that is needed, when it is needed. Having an organized workplace that utilizes visual cues to maintain itself allows JIT manufacturing to proceed more smoothly; in this type of environment, it’s easier to see problems and move materials efficiently.