What is 5S and why do we want to do it?

5S is short for: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain.

5S is a methodology for organizing, cleaning, developing and sustaining a productive work environment. The methodology originates from a japanese housekeeping idea named becuse of the five Japanese words each beginning with the letter “se” or “shi”. They are “Se-iri“. “Se-iton“, “Se-iso“, “Se-iketsu” and “Shi-tsuke“.

5S represents 5 disciplines for maintaining a visual workplace (visual controls and information systems). These are foundational to Kaizen (continuous improvement) and a manufacturing strategy based “Lean Manufacturing” (waste removing) concepts. 5S is one of the activities that will help ensure our company’s survival.


  1. SortAll unneeded tools, parts and supplies are removed from the area.
  2. Set in Order A place for everything and everything is in its place.
  3. ShineThe area is cleaned as the work is performed.
  4. StandardizeCleaning and identification methods are consistently applied.
  5. Sustain5S is a habit and is continually improved.

Also – Work areas are safe and free of hazardous or dangerous conditions

5S Examples

5S Example – Sort, Set in Order

Before 5S
After 5S – Cleaned,
organized and drawers
labeled (less time and
frustration hunting)
  1. Sort – All unwanted or un needed tools, parts and supplies are remove from the area.
  2. Set in Order – A place for everything and everything is in its place.

5S Examples – Shine

The area is cleaned as the work is performed (best) and\or there is a routine to keep the work area clean.

5S Examples – Standardize

In standardization cleaning and identification methods are consistently apply. Departments have weekly 5S tours.
Every job has duties that use Sort, Set in Order and Shine We all have common duties to do our part to keep all areas of the plant in shape – breakroom, restrooms, locker area, parking lot, etc.

5S Examples – Sustain

Now a days, 5S is a habit and continually improved. 5S is a simple concept with powerful results. You will get additional information on 5S so that you will be well equipped. Our experience is that the more we do 5S the better the work environment becomes: cleaner, safer, more organized, the work is easier, less confusion and less stress. Use the 5S (work\home\play) – The more you use it the easier it becomes and life just gets better and better.

First the Bad and the Ugly – Life Without 5S
The Good

Some new words,

Red TagProcess for tagging, removing and disposing of items not needed in the work area.

Lean Manufacturingconcepts that seek continuous improvement by removing waste in processes

Kaizen- (pronounced “ki – zen”) Improvement

Kaizen Event and 5S EventPlanned improvements to a specific area or process (usually take 3 to 5 days).
5S Events focus on making 5S improvements.

Muda-(pronounced “moo da”)waste

Gemba-(pronounced “gim ba”)workplace

Kanban-(pronounced “kon bon”)Pull type inventory control system. Items are only produced to meet customer needs. The request to produce more is signaled from an upstream operation and/or customer orders.

Value Stream MapA diagram of all processes needed to make and deliver the product to the customer.

TOCShort for Theory of Constraints. Problem solving and constraint management methods. Use the 5 Step form of TOC to solve problems that you will encounter in your continuous improvement efforts.

Scroll to Top