5S is one of the lean tools that help us identify problems, create a culture of discipline and make opportunities for improvement visible.
Many people get caught up in the discussion of 5s vs 4s vs 7s. Let's do not waste the time on such discussion the importance of 5S is visible in it purpose.
The purpose of 5S (as well of any other lean tool) is :
Make problems and opportunities for improvement visible.
Why do we want to have a place organized?
to be able to eliminate downtime when we need to look for things, avoid safety issues, identify bottle necks, etc.
In English language 5S is usually described as:
- set in order
5S was originally developed in Japan, so the "S"s used in English are just an adaptation of the underlying principle behind it.
In Japanese the 5S are:
- seiri (sort and eliminate)
- seiton (order)
- seiso (clean)
- seiketsu (maintain)
- shitsuke (discipline)
as you can see the underlying principles are the same and that is what really matters.
Seiri = Sort. This is a no brainer and does not need further explanation
Seiton (order) = Set in Order, here the parallel is also evident
Seiso (clean) = Shine, well what do we do when we shine? well we clean.
Seiketsu (maintain) = Standardize, A very efficient way to 'maintain' 5S is by standardizing and sticking to that standard.
Shitsuke (discipline) = Sustain.......the only way to be able to sustain something is through discipline, the discipline to adhere to the standards day after day.