Solving The 5 S Puzzle

Let’s start our foray into the techniques of lean manufacturing this week with an ice-breaker on 5 S. The method is a hand-me-down from the Japanese who are renowned for their dedication to quality. So what do the 5 Ss denote?

Seiri (Tidiness) or Sort – emphasizes the importance of eliminating all those items and process that are not absolutely necessary for the process at hand. In other words, don’t be a pack rat and hoard stuff.

Seiton (Orderliness) or Set – stresses on the adage “a place for everything and everything in its place”. It’s a simple way of facilitating easy retrieval and thus eliminating wastage of time and effort in the search process.

Seiso (Cleanliness) or Shine – reiterates the proverb that “cleanliness is next to godliness”. Everyone in the organization should contribute to the creation of a clean workplace, with responsibility being assigned for each area.

Seiketsu (Standardization) or Standardize – defines standards and methods for maintaining cleanliness – both personal and of the workplace. It includes practices such as color-coding for easy identification, storage and retrieval of objects.

Shitsuke (Discipline) or Sustain – urges you to continuously practice the five Ss as a way of life rather than as a one-off thing. It means assuming responsibility for oneself and one’s activities without performing only when someone is watching over you. In short, it is the elimination of bad habits and the continuous adoption of good ones.