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The 5S is probably the most known tool of Lean. Simple, it allows to involve the teams in the process by tangible and measurable results quickly.


The 5S is a methodology to improve the workspace by rearranging it. The 5S derive its name from:

  • Seiri (整理): Sort.
  • Seiton (整頓): Set in order
  • Seiso (清掃): Shine.
  • Seiketsu (清潔): Standardize.
  • Shitsuke (躾): Sustain.

Setting up the 5S helps to guarantee the basic conditions to do an effective job.


The 5S is derived from Cando1 (Cleaning up, Arranging, Neatness, Discipline, Ongoing Improvement), developed in the years 1920 by Henry Ford.

« There are two ways to improve production. The first is to improve the organization of work by establishing standard procedures, redistributing work and making sure that everything is in its place and that order and cleanliness reign in the workshops. »-Taiichi OHNO2

Moreover, during the Second World War and to support the American war effort, the training program was created TWI (Training Within Industry) to teach the master’s officers to train their staff-women, unskilled workers, replacing the mobilized men-at the workstation , practicing on the job. Within the procedures of the TWI, they were put forward 6 steps3 :

Eliminate,Combine, Rearrange,Simplify,Develop,Improve.


At the time of the TWI, the term used was then “housekeeping“. This original term is intended to empower the employee to hold his or her workstation as if it were his own home.


Historically, 5S is a method of having a cleaner, better-stowed workstation and allowing for more productive work. It has evolved through TPM4as a key tool to help detect problems. Beyond these 2 key points, the 5S impact a very broad panel of indicators:

  • Reduce the non-quality.
  • Reduce failures.
  • Increase productivity.
  • Facilitate daily management.
  • Reduce the transports Muda Generally speaking.
  • Reduce the useful surfaces.
  • Standardize the work of the teams.
  • Improve respect for the environment
  • Reduce workplace Risks and MSD.
  • Show the teams that management takes into account their remarks.
  • Make ” benchmarkable ” and ” visitable ” the site by improving the overall cleanliness.


What the 5S is not!

The 5S is not a business approach of type 0 papers. This goes beyond that of the paper consumption, but participates in it however.

The 5S is not the great spring cleaning. It is standardized and maintained in time.

The 5S is not extra time during the work. On the contrary, the 5S must save time.

Do you need a 5S ?

it can always be used!where did I put this room? As many words as we have all been able to say in our personal life as a professional. In our garage or on our desk, we accumulate useless things in two different ways:

  • Voluntarily following the principle of “ this can always serve “. The Tinkers and the people in the maintenance services are the specialists. The problem is that in general at the time of using the well treasured aside, no one remembers where it was “stowed” .
  • Involuntarily leaving things in their place and neglecting, either putting them back in place or throwing them away if they are useless.

You probably need a 5S if:

  • The workshops and offices are dirty and poorly arranged.
  • The search times for files, tools… are long.
  • There’s a lack of space.
  • The drawers and cabinets are full, standards and documentation are not up to date or not present.
  • You feel like you’re storing all the time, but you also feel like you always have to tidy up. In Japanese, we talk about “Katazuke“: These are cyclical storage activities. But these are not “pushy” enough. At best, they allow to have a first level of storage and to go faster in the implementation of the 5S.

The 1st S: Sort

Seiri is the step that allows you to keep on the workstation only what is useful and necessary. To do this you have to take pictures of the initial state. It will be done regularly throughout the process to have a ” backup ” of the previous state and to be able to make comparisons.

1/Set up a 5S zone

This is a delimited space and close to the project area where you will store all the elements that have become useless.

2/Make an inventory of ALL the elements present at the workstation

Use an inventory list for this.

3/Make a simple and ” obvious ” sorting

By separating unnecessary, useful or indeterminate objects. Ask each object, these questions:

  • Is this item useful?
  • If it is useful, is it in this quantity?
  • If it is useful, is it in this workstation ?
  • Who is responsible for this object?
  • Does this document have legal value?

4/For “ indeterminate ” objects, measure their frequencies of use for a period of time.

The label method is usually used: each object has a label on which during the period, we will note the date of use, the operation, the duration and the user. At the end of the period, you will determine all the objects in one of two categories: useful or useless. If the choice is still not possible, in this case it is necessary to renew the period.

5/Recycle unused objects

Process the entire 5S area and decide on the fate of each of the objects. You can redistribute them to other posts, sell them to partners or subcontractors or finally recycle/discard them.

Whether it is in this stage or in the others, the work of sorting, of choice… must be done with the agreement of the operational teams. It is necessary to pay attention to the fact to remove everything that can be and not to keep objects ” can be ” useful.

T. Osada explains that throwing is an art5 : ” Yuji Aida, a professor at Kyoto University, is organized according to what he calls the Aida method. He believes that keeping objects and information indifferent takes up space and causes extra work, so it is absolutely necessary to get rid of what we do not need. When he goes to university every day, he takes the mail in his locker and peeks into the stairs and hallways that lead him to his office. While walking, he sorts the letters he wants to keep and those that were not selected during this first sorting, go directly to the basket placed next to the front door. He often finds that he has nothing in hand when he finally sits at his desk. The organization is the art of knowing how to throw. »

The second S: Set in order

Seiton allows to organize the workspace in order to agree with a phrase well known to all:

A place for every thing and every thing in its place“-Samuel Smile (1812-1904)

An English writer and Polish reformer, he developed a theory that it is more effective to change habits than to change laws. In particular, he proclaimed that poverty is largely caused by irresponsible habits. This phrase from his book THRIFT, he gives it to explain that as much a businessman as a lady of House must be orderly and systematic and so ” There must be a place for everything, and everything in its place “.

It will be noted that Sakichi Toyoda was influenced by Samuel smile, and that a copy of his best seller “Self Help” can be found at the Toyota Museum.

1/Identify the usage frequencies of each object

By taking inventory of useful objects, we identify their frequency of use in hour, day… A diagram can be helped Spaghetti To clarify the level of use of the objects. This makes it possible to deduce whether the object should be on hand, nearby, farther… However, even further afield, it must be easily found.

2/Choose the most appropriate locations

The storage of the objects must be designed to ensure the quality of use, to reduce the painfulness and to facilitate their accessibility. Group the elements by function, position in the process, sectors or even difficulty of handling.

3/Choose the most suitable type of storage

Knowing their usefulness and frequency of use, we define how to order them. For example, store them by fragility, vertically, horizontally, weight, volume…

A simple method of selection is to use the ABC method. Using 3 classes, we determine the storage of the objects.

Example with the storage frequency:

Frequency of Use

At the workstation


At the store or farther



May be



May be







Example with the weight of the parts:

Weight of Parts

in height

A height

Down there

< 1kg


May be


1 kg < X < 10 kg

May be



10kg <




Some tips are to remove the doors from the cabinets or tilt the shelves to avoid repositioning other tools in the future.


The storage step is not just choosing the locations. A real 5S asks to go further. In this step, we identify the status of the parts we keep at the Position. If this nominal state is not known, then we will work as a team to clearly identify and document it. In case the nominal state is known, we will then make sure that the parts we are going to store are in this state or take the time to repair them.

The 3rd S: Shine

Seiso allows you to set up all the cleaning processes to keep the workstation in the best possible condition.

1/Clean the entire workstation

Attention, make sure that the machines are out of tension, that the products used are adequate and that for certain machines only the authorised persons can clean them. Then proceed to a thorough cleaning.

2/clean and inspect

Be sure to identify each of the dirt sources (via the 5 Why or the Causes/Effects Matrix) to put in place solutions to avoid cleaning.

Cleaning is the first thing to avoid getting dirty.

This cleaning step allows to identify the sources of dirt to eradicate them and avoid soiling.

Avoid the blowgunss that dispart the soil or and paint in white the objects which will facilitate the detection of the dirt.

3/Organize the cleaning routine

You have to understand the interest in it being you who do the cleaning. Indeed, a cleaning company “delight” in the dirt, you need to know the Position to detect and treat the anomalies, and to take responsibility for the holding of the Position. Organising this cleaning is to set up standards specifying:

  • What ?: What to clean, grease and inspect.
  • Who ?: who is responsible for doing so.
  • Where?: the boundaries of the area under consideration.
  • When?: the frequency to be respected.
  • How much?: the duration and quantity.
  • How?: means and methods to be applied.
  • Why?: The goal to achieve, most often illustrated by photos.

Why clean up after storing?

The Seiso goes further than just cleaning. The Seiso step allows you to clean by inspecting and setting up cleaning and inspection routines. Doing this is easier when the storage is already planned.

The 4th S: Standardize

Seiketsu makes it easier to maintain the level of performance achieved by making ” standard ” the state level.

1/make clear the entire Position

We’re going to set up the concepts of visual management. This goes through the identification of all the locations of the objects, to set up visual indicators (danger zone, color code of reading of a manometer…).

2/ Elaborate the rules

Build the set of standards (cleaning rule…) According to what has been defined during the 5S.

3/ Train staff in new standards

For each standard, provide a training time for the affected people. It will also be necessary to ensure that these gains are validated and maintained.

The 5th S: sustain and improving

Shitsuke, the last step of the 5S, aims to establish the processes of maintenance and improvement. We are here on the key stage of the 5S. It will not be useful to put a workstation in 5S if it returns to its previous level after a few weeks. The objective is to make it clear that this step is the mission of all : PositionStaff, new staff, management…

1/apply and enforce standards

By developing self-discipline and building on the results and satisfactions obtained. Specifically, one or more outreach/training sessions will be organized to show the teams the benefits of the 5S.

2/Set up rules for 5S behaviors

For example, every evening tidy up his Position by picking up everything that hangs and storing cabinets, drawers…

3/Develop and facilitate audits

Use the principles of process confirmation.

4/Improve standards

This step is complex: it takes perseverance, rigour and get a real Involvement Operational. Alone, this maintenance will allow us to know the real gains made by the 5S.

5S and Muda

5S and overproduction

The 5S allows you to put order in your posts, your offices or even your stores. The 5S makes it possible to make the overproduction obvious. The posts being studied to ” contain ” the just necessary for good production, in case of overproduction, the “overproduced” elements will be outside the defined zones.

5S and waiting

On a daily basis, we are waiting for a deposit, a machine, a data, a collaborator… The 5S participates in gaining productivity by avoiding spending too much time searching for items. Reducing these research times is reducing the wait times of all.

5S and transport

By working on processes, the 5S reduces unnecessary tasks and reduces the need for transportation. In addition, the use of transport elements (truck…) will be made easier by identifying the areas of storage, parking, maintenance…

5S and Stocks

In the first step of the 5S, we work on a better inventory management of parts, consumables, tools… by identifying locations… and thus reducing them.
Example of the papers: during a 5Sproject, you will probably be able to discover paper ramets everywhere. By collecting them on a place and managing the stocks by a Kanban, you can reduce them.

5S and process

The 5S does not just apply to objects. It is applicable in the same way in the processes. As time goes by, the procedures become complexity and see the birth of processes becoming unnecessary. The 5S allows you to remove these unnecessary processes.

5S and movements

The work on the ergonomics of the Position is a major point. As such, we are working on the fact that the elements are at hand and always present in sufficient quantity. A number of Muda are automatically reduced.

5S and Non-quality

In a 5Sone works also on aspects of production quality. Typically, by rethinking the organization of the Position, you will put ” dampening ” elements on the product storage areas to avoid scratches.

5S Office and manufacturing

In Office, the 5S applies in the same way as a 5S in a workshop. The concept of office encompasses both offices and computers as such. So it’s easy to transpose the 5S on these areas where you can get similar results.

Example of a 5S in a computer:

  1. Sort: sort unneeded documents and folders or not up to date. Remove obsolete documents.
  2. Set in order: design a tree that facilitates the exchange and retrieval of information. Keep Documents useful at the first level of architecture and put others in archival files at lower levels.
  3. Shine: Remove sources of “pollution” by unsubscribe from unnecessary mailings. Put in place rules for sending mails.
  4. Standardize: set up clear rules for naming and classifying documents. The date of last update must be easily accessible and common documents on sharing tools to prevent 2 people working at the same time on the same file.
  5. Sustain: set up regular audits to assess the level of standards maintenance. Treat the anomalies and improve if necessary.

5S and change management

The 5S is a must in a change process. First of all, because its concept is simple to understand, to implement, and achieving visible and measurable results.

The 5S puts in the center of the reflection the operational. Its first concern is to rely on the teams to rethink the work environment and reduce the painfulness. It is during these projects that the teams can communicate their daily difficulties.

For these reasons, the 5S is a major tool in a culture change process. Probably the first tool to implement.


1-C. Gergen (2010)-The Quality paradigm: Why you and your business need it to succeed

2-T. Ohno (1978)-Toyota Seisan Hoshiki

3-C. Hohmann (2010) Practical Guide to 5S for managers and supervisors

4-K. Shirose (1984)-The TPM guide of the work unit

5-T. Osada (1993)- 5S. First practice of Total quality

T. Fabrizio, D. Tapping (2006)- 5S for the office: organizing the workplace to eliminate waste

E. Moulding (2010)- 5S : A visual control system for the workplace

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