The 5S strategy is a method of making a business more efficient. It deals with surprisingly simple concepts and practices. These concepts and practices, however, have the capacity to make a workplace not only more productive and profitable, but safer and more efficient for employees. This concept was born in Japan, among its leading auto manufacturers. The 5Ss and adhering to them have helped many of those Japanese companies become among the most successful in the world and, in the case of their auto industry, the most successful industries in the world, eventually outpacing the American auto industry.
The 5S concept deals with the following processes: sorting, straightening, sweeping, standardizing and sustaining. It hardly sounds glamorous, but the implications of implementing this strategy are significant, sometimes being enough to make a company far more profitable than it is already. Sorting simply means going through the workplace and finding any item that is not necessary and either storing or removing it. Straightening means proving work stations that are organized and where every item has a proper place. Sweeping means maintaining effective industrial hygiene and standardizing means making sure that every process is communicated and intelligible. Sustaining this philosophy is obviously necessary.
With a well-organized workplace where every employee knows where to find, and store, the tools they need, a manufacturing process can be remarkably more efficient. It eliminates wasted time on the part of employees when they have to hunt down the tools they need. It also increases safety by making sure that each work area is impeccably clean and that everything is stored in a safe place where it doesn’t present a hazard. The 5S concept may sound simple, but simplicity is at the heart of efficiency and that is exactly what the 5Ss will generate.