Lean 5s

Click here for the Japanese version of 5s.

"Effective 5s implementation is the foundation of our success."

What is Lean 5s?

In English In Japanese
Sort 整理 Seiri - Orderliness
Set In Order 整頓 Seiton - Neatness
Shine 清掃 Seiso - Cleaning, Shine
Standardize 清潔 Seiketsu- Cleanliness
Sustain Shitsuke - Discipline

From the first letter of 5 words in Japanese which mean orderliness (seiri), neatness (seiton),shine (seiso), cleanliness (seiketsu) and discipline (shitsuke). In English, lean 5s is commonly referred to as:

1. Sort

2. Set in Order

3. Shine

4. Standardize

5. Sustain (maintain the discipline to continue with the process)

Japanese 5s - Important Cultural Distinctions:
The difference in the wording between the English and Japanese versions of lean 5s is both interesting and important as it reflects the different mindsets of the east and west.
For example, we use `Standardize` in English vs. `Cleanliness` in Japanese.

In Japan, cleanliness refers to the overall cleanliness and order that results from the strict observance of the previous 3s`s. It is a result of following the process rather than an imposed rule or regulation.

The ability to maintain a good lean 5s condition is the best indicator of the discipline required for effective lean production.

5s implementation tips & Caste study of a poor 5s process, click here.

5s Principles

The target of 5s is to create a safe and comfortable work environment by keeping the area in order, neat and clean by the workers themselves. In so doing, motivation in the workplace is fostered.

5s principles were created for lean production, cost reduction and employee empowerment. Lean 5s techniques work from the assembly line to the office. Where ever inefficiencies lie, lean 5s is a wonderful tool and philosophy to create order and motivation in the workplace.

5s workplace organization works on the principle that a workplace full of clutter is less productive and motivating than a clean and ordered area. Unnecessary items and dirt get in the way of employees and negatively impact productivity. From the Japanese point of view, cleanliness is indeed next to godliness. Cleanliness or the removal of all dirt is a form of beauty. Working in a beautiful environment creates positivity and good energy flow - necessities when it comes to motivation.

Life without a 5s process & 5s standards = WASTE

Unorganized and unneeded items use up time spent searching, create safety issues due to tripping hazards, and demand extra movement walking around obstacles to retrieve tools that are needed at hand. Wasted time, wasted movement, wasted energy, wasted motivation and wasted costs.

For 5s Principles into Practice Training, click here.

Investigating a factory site - Process Improvement Japan

5s Workplace Organization Benefits

  • Reduces the cost of inventory. Fewer items mean less storage space needed.
  • Increases workspace
  • Improves workplace conditions. Clean, spacious work centers rather than dirty cluttered areas.
  • Reduces work cycle time. Fewer delays = time saved. You`d be surprised how much time is wasted due to clutter!
  • Reduce defects and damage. Problems are prevented.
  • Increased safety
  • Increases team efficiency.
  • Increases company morale. Rather waste time on problems and frustrations, everyone can do their jobs smoothly.
  • Improves customer satisfaction. Customers obviously prefer higher quality, lower cost, and faster order fulfilment.

For details on Office Kaizen, click here.

The 5s Red Tag, Process Improvement Japan

The 5s Red Tag

The 5s Red Tag is one of the useful lean manufacturing tools when undergoing the sorting process.

For more details & a FREE 5s Red Tag downloadable template, click here.

Koji Suzuki, lean sensei -  Process Improvement Japan

Koji Suzuki says...

In a production company, for instance, implementing good 5s workplace organization can prevent mis-shipment, mixed products, excess inventory, etc.

In an office, stationary can be saved, time for seeking documents is shortened, space can be conserved, etc.

Finally, I would like to stress that the first 4s becomes a matter of pride and discipline, which provides satisfaction even without discussing its business advantage.

The 5s Office

The 5s Principles are essential to lean production. But it`s not just for the factory site. The office is a treasure trove of money saving opportunities just waiting to be discovered. Plus 5s is the key to efficiency and productivity. Process Improvement Japan offers 5s audit services, consultancy & training programs as well as an online 5s training package and E-book

Food for thought about lean 5s implementation:

Does putting a 5s process into practice lead to a breakthrough? ie; new technology or production method

Expert`s answer: Usually no, not directly. 5s itself doesn`t bring about a new idea. a 5s process does, however, create the optimum environment for breakthroughs. The 5s process does not just apply to physical cleanliness and discipline - it`s also a mental clearing and training. It is a tool for motivation in the workplace!

Weekly Advice from Toyota`s Leaders

Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.

Please enter the word that you see below.


Return from lean 5s to Process Improvement Japan

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.