The 5S System is based on five Japanese words:
- Seiri - Sort (organize)
- Seiton - Set in Order (straighten)
- Seisō - Shine (cleanliness)
- Seiketsu - Standardize (consistency)
- Shitsuke - Sustain (discipline)
In non-Japanese speaking plants, 5S is more commonly referred to as:
- Set in Order
So, does that really matter? Those 5 words that all start with S and in that specific order?
You'd better believe it does, especially the philosophy behind them. The why part is as easy as the concepts themselves. These concepts are the very essence of Lean: the building blocks of Lean Manufacturing, the cornerstones upon which the foundation is built. Think of this as a map - you have a good idea where you want to go. Taking the steps in a manner that makes sense is almost as important as the steps themselves.
Remove everything that is not necessary to perform a task in your work space. This is an exercise that should be done by every individual, not only on your immediate team or in your area, but by every single person in your facility in his or her own work space. Yes, even carpet dwellers, aka office people.
Set in Order
You've removed everything that was unnecessary. Now organize what remains. Neatly arrange and label parts and tools for greater ease of use.
Clean it up! Literally. Again, start with your own immediate work area. You can't throw stones if you don't live in a clean glass house.
Kind of like the map, if they were all the same. Aha! While not all maps take you to the same destination, they all have the same basics and features in common. So, if you know how to use one map to guide you, you know how to use them all.
You've done it! Now keep it going and keep on keeping on! Think wet, lather, shampoo, rinse, condition, repeat these steps as necessary going forward. You don't cook or eat one meal and think, "Well, that's done!" for the rest of your life, right? Same thing here. Do those steps, do them well, and do them in order. This is the pattern of repetition that makes it easy to Sustain.