5 Principles for Operational Excellence from the Lean 5S Guide

On an Operational Excellence Journey, chaos and unproductivity are your enemies.

Organization and efficiency are your allies. If implemented correctly and followed diligently, 5S will lead to:

  • Lower costs
  • Better quality
  • Improved safety
  • Increased productivity
  • Higher employee satisfaction

But how? Take a look at the 5 Pillars of Lean 5S, courtesy of the Lean 5S Guide – available on BTOES Insights now.

#1 Sort

Sort and separate necessary and unnecessary items in the area. The goal of Sort is to eliminate all of the unneeded tools and materials and to create a space that is free of clutter. This allows for a workflow free from distraction!

A good rule of thumb is: “If you do not use it on a daily basis – throw it out.” Leave only the things that you absolutely need to get your job done.

#2 Set in Order

Set in Order is the process of putting everything in a place that is easy to get to. All items should be clearly marked so anyone could easily find its proper home.

The goal of Set in Order is to create a standardized and consistent way to store and retrieve tools and materials. The key here is standardization. The user must develop this system based on how often the tools and materials are accessed and the process that uses them.

Read More: Lean Manufacturing Resources, Guides

#3 Shine

Shine is most likely the most literal of the pillars for Excellence from the Lean 5S Guide – it literally means to remove all the dirt and grime and to keep the workplace clean on daily basis. You want to get it clean and keep it clean.

When you implement this step, two things will happen. First, your employees will love coming to work in such a clean and bright environment. And second, because you are keeping the equipment and your surroundings in such great shape, you will have fewer injuries and fewer equipment breakdowns. Fewer Issues = Fewer Costs.

#4 Standardize

Standardize creates a system of tasks and procedures that will ensure that the principles of 5S are performed on a daily basis. This is essentially the process of turning your good plans into good habits! At this stage there are 3 major suggestions: 1) Make sure that each employee knows his responsibilities, 2) Make it a part of their daily routine, and 3) Periodic evaluation.

#5 Sustain

Probably the most challenging stage, Sustain is the final pillar of the 5S system, and its Chief objective is to give your staff the commitment and motivation to follow each step, day in and day out.

Want to learn more about this cornerstone of Lean Manufacturing? Check out the Full Whitepaper below:

LEAN 5S GUIDEDOWNLOAD: LEAN 5S GUIDELearn the Principles of the 5S/6S philosophy and
how to successfully implement it in any facility.


About the Author

Creative Safety Supply is a supplier and manufacturer of industrial safety and Lean manufacturing products. The company’s SafetyTac® floor marking tape, LabelTac® industrial label printers, Lean and 5S supplies and other tools for the workplace have helped businesses of all sizes and across many industries create spaces that are easier to navigate, safer and more efficient.

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    Donovan Larsen

    Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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