How to Establish 5S in the Workplace

The 5S method is designed to create some structure in the workplace, being carried out to pinpoint areas that halt productivity in order to implement improvements. Although carrying out the 5S method once can lead to some great results, many businesses choose to do it every year as they can see the benefits it offers to their workplace and want to continue improving their working environment.

The process can be implemented into businesses across a wide range of industries, following the core principles of the Lean philosophy which help create more organized processes. Working in environments from industrial warehouses all the way to medical corporations, 5S creates an improved foundation that can be developed on an ongoing basis.

The Steps of 5S

1. Sort

Excess clutter can prove detrimental to day-to-day operations, holding up progress by filling up space with things that are not needed. Whether an area is full of broken equipment, production waste, or items that have been left in the wrong place, this extra clutter can prevent employees from being able to grab what they need as and when they need it. Instead, clear up space by removing anything that is not needed on a regular and either store them correctly or dispose of them completely.

Step 1: Sort

2. Set in order

Routine is an important factor in productivity, helping employees do their job both efficiently and effectively. Establish logical processes and help this be followed by organizing any equipment or materials in a logical order. To create the most effective order, consider factors such as transportation accessibility, limited movement of employees, material storage, and defects, helping iron out any inconveniences or common problems.

Step 2: Set in Order

3. Shine

A clean workspace can only improve the way a team is able to carry out their daily duties, ensuring both the site itself and the equipment used are in a fit state for use. Once sufficient cleaning has been carried out, the processes can be analyzed to establish the results in the best conditions, setting the standard which should continue to be met afterward by staying on top of upkeep.

Step 3: Shine

4. Standardize

Everyone has a slightly different way of working, but not aligning a team can result in inconsistencies, disagreements, and halted productivity. In order to create a standardized way of working, everyone from a department should be spoken with to get a thorough understanding of how things are currently done and how employees believe they should be done moving forward. Listening to people from every role within a team will create a more rounded understanding that can be used to decide on the way that everyone will be required to work moving forward, establishing a process that suits all members of the team and helps them carry out their role effectively.

Step 4: Standardize

5. Sustain

Once processes have been decided on, implementing them is the next stage. The way employees carry out their roles and the maintenance of equipment and grounds should become an ongoing standard that is maintained at all times. To do this, regular training and communication are required, accepting any feedback from members of staff and carrying out ongoing analysis.

Step 5: Sustain

Implementing 5S Effectively

To maximize the improvements and kick off the new processes smoothly, there are a few steps that can be followed and applied to organizations across many different industries.

A great place to start is for management to put themselves into the shoes of employees from various roles on a production line, getting out to the different areas of the business to carry out the role themselves and see whether the new process is as effective in practice as in theory. Whenever starting something new, starting simple with manageable changes make it much easier to identify and resolve any problems on a smaller scale before they have the time to escalate.

Getting others on board can be one of the biggest challenges faced since employees are already used to their old way of working. Training sessions should be carried out to emphasize why the changes are beneficial to everyone and how it can improve their daily life at work, creating momentum as the team comes together to achieve these new goals.

To remind both employees and site visitors of the processes in place, many organizations find it useful to implement floor markings and safety signs throughout a site. Floor markings increase efficiency within a facility by guiding floor traffic in the correct direction to maintain a steady flow as well as making any hazards easily visible. Safety signs should be placed at eye level to catch the attention of people in the area, warning them of any hazards or providing instruction on what to do in the case of an emergency.

Even once initial changes have been implemented successfully, continue planning for ongoing improvements and continue following the 5S process. The employees who spend time following these processes on a regular basis provide the best insight into what changes could prove beneficial, so keeping communication open will allow them to provide feedback and recommendations.

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