5S a gateway to beginning the LEAN journey

USA_5S-Poster_image5S is often misunderstood and widely thought of as just a housekeeping activity. While housekeeping is important, 5S has a much wider scope.

5S relates to workplace organization. A gateway to beginning the LEAN journey, whilst engaging the workforce throughout the development and use of ‘Standards’ and ‘Practices’.

5S can be used as a method of gauging an organization’s approach to its business. An evaluation of the workplace, using the principles of 5S can quickly provide a clear picture of an organization’s capability for continuous improvement and visual management standards.

The 5S steps:


Getting rid of items no longer needed.

Sorting out and disposing of rubbish and clutter will have an immediate impact on morale.  Space is regained and storage sorted for maximum efficiency.

Sort out the most efficient order of tasks to complete the production process.

Create a value stream map to engage staff in analyzing current procedures.  Design improved processes for the tasks that take your product from the start of production through to the distribution point.


Organising the workplace around the tasks

Ensure everything for the task is easy to find and provided within easy reach when needed.

FIFO (First in, first out) maintaining precise production and conveyance sequence, ensuring that the first part to enter a process or storage location is also the first part to exit.


Cleaning the work area and equipment.

Maintenance of machinery, equipment and the working environment is important for health and safety, and reducing waste. Minimizing the time wasted by production slowdowns and stops for repairs that could have been avoided, will let you concentrate on high quality output.


Setting standards

Create standardized tasks optimised into simple, easy to follow steps, for each stage of the process.  Visual management for standardised processes guides operators to perform set tasks the same way each time by using a clearly defined process.  This combines and uses different resources effectively, such as time, technology, tools and materials.


Maintaining the standards you have put into place.

Continue to maintain, monitor and make adjustments. Processes can be further analyzed and optimized by applying different lean techniques in order to achieve cost saving, sustain high standards and efficiencies for continuous improvement.

The continuing success of 5S depends on the discipline of the team to use audit documents that should be a key performance indicator (KPI), scored and reviewed during the Gemba activity at an agreed frequency by responsible owners.

The benefits of 5S

  • Improved safety.
  • Fundamental KPI and key driver for Kaizen events.
  • Forms a solid foundation to start your lean journey.
  • Team members gain a sense of ownership, involvement, and responsibility.
  • Reduction in waste.
  • Improved performance in productivity, quality and team engagement.
  • Increase profitability.


A systematic and methodical approach will allow teams to organise their workplace in the safest and most efficient manner. This is equally applicable and successful in any industry helping to achieve immediate results.

You are welcome to download and print our free 5S Safety Poster for your workplace. For more information on our 5S solutions get in touch with our team.