The Biggest Advantages of Lean 5s Principles

Feb 1 08:52 2013 Earnest Hali Print This Article

Lean 5s principles are based a series of five words in Japanese: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke.

In English,Guest Posting these words translate into five primary organizational phases, all starting with “s.” These phases are sorting, set order, systematic maintenance, standardization, and sustainability. As a methodology often used within the workforce, there are many advantages of lean 5s principles.

Step 1: Process of Eliminating Items-Sorting

The first step in the Lean 5s principles is the process of elimination. Sorting has many advantages, going beyond placing items with other items of a similar nature. This step focuses on eliminating unnecessary tools, paperwork, instructions, or other items that are not used in the work environment. Items that are needed are kept. Items that are not used are discarded or stored. Prioritizing is key in the sorting step, which places important items in easy-to-find areas.

Step 2: Process of Eliminating Time-Setting in Order

One of the best advantages to the lean 5s principles and methodology is step two, or setting in order. Within this phase, items are prioritized and placed in correct areas, with the focal point being on saving time. When much-needed items are arranged in a proper manner, then time is not wasted trying to find items. Depending upon the project or the operation, items may be organized placed at eye level, or prioritized by the most important items at the top, and going down to the least used items.

Step 3: Systematic Cleaning

Placing all items where they belong is the principle behind the systematic cleaning phase. As items are arranged and prioritized in step two, they are also cleaned and kept orderly in this step. Cleaning in a workspace usually systematically takes place right after a shift, so that everything is orderly at the beginning of the next shift, saving time for those just clocking in to work. Keeping equipment, tools, and other items clean on a regular basis, can also keep the items safer and easier to use, saving time, money, and creating a healthier work environment.

Step 4: Standardizing

The belief behind the standardizing phase is to make all working stations identical or similar. Meaning, employees that are conducting identical jobs or are working on the same projects should be capable of going to any station and complete the job with tools readily available. The key to success with this phase, is that everyone knows what their job is, and systematically work as a team to accomplish a common goal smoothly. All workers know the value of sticking to the first three steps (or esses), to obtain all of the advantages of the lean 5s principles.

Step 5: Sustaining

After the first four phases have been properly implemented within a work environment, the key to success is to now sustain these principles. Any time a new piece of equipment, a new tool, a new employee, or anything new is added to the system, it must go through the first four phases before it can be properly sustained. Changes should be made to add the item or person to the system so that progress can move along smoothly.

The main advantages of the lean 5s principles are those of habit, growth, harmony, balance, and frugality. Safety, satisfaction, and security are often considered the next three phases as these are added often, to continue with the sustaining process. Lean productivity is the main thread for these principles that are proving effective with many companies and individuals around the globe.

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Earnest Hali
Earnest Hali

The five steps of 5S, in Japanese, are Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke, which are translated into English as Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. Five S Principles are explained further in this blog post.

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