The 5S principle - how to improve efficiency in the company

Service Business

The 5S principle accompanies employees in an increasing number of workplaces. Until a few years ago, it was only sporadically found in foreign corporations. Today, its advantages are also starting to be noticed by Polish entrepreneurs. Is it really effective and improves job maintenance at a high level? Let's take a closer look at it.

The 5S standard appeared for the first time in Japanese companies that decided to create a specific tool to establish, maintain, organize and continuously improve the workplaces of local employees. After several years of testing, the aforementioned principle, currently used, among others, in lean management, was formalized by Takashi Osada. The abbreviation "5S" comes from five Japanese words beginning with the letter "S", symbolizing the next steps: seiri (sort), seiton (systematics), seiso (cleaning), seiketsu (standardization) and shitsuke (self-discipline). Over time, the Japanese principle began to be appreciated also outside Asia, including Poland. It is more and more often implemented in production, warehouse, service and even office companies with Polish capital.

Principle 1S - SEIRI

The first step in the 5S method is pre-selection and ordering. During its duration, an extensive inventory of workstations and common areas is carried out in order to separate the items that are needed from those that are unnecessary. The latter are usually marked with red cards and then removed from the audited area (thrown away or collected in the so-called red label room). The 5S principle allows you to find redundant materials and instruments, unused tools or outdated manuals that have not been used for a long time. Seiri allows you to keep workstations clean and tidy, leaving only items that are actually used.

The 2S principle - SEITON

The second element of the 5S principle is systematics. It applies to all items that remained at the workplace, after its prior arrangement. The main assumptions of this stage concern the method of storage and the selection of a specific and permanent place for individual items. It is also extremely important to mark them properly - so that, if necessary, they are easily and quickly available, and in sufficient quantity. Most often, special lines, labels, colored markings of the maximum and minimum quantity of goods or even information plates are used for this. After this 5S stage, every employee should know where to look for specific items. Seiton also focuses on improving existing processes and optimizing them so that they cause less waste than before. The aim of this stage of work is to leave a tidy and tidy workplace and the resulting increase in productivity.

The 3S principle - SEISO

Cleaning is an integral part of the 5S formula. The elimination of all kinds of contamination, dirt or even dust will allow the work stations and tools covered by this principle to impress with their order and be well received by employees. Order should be maintained by the interested or qualified personnel themselves. This part of the 5S Principle is also based on the demonstration and documentation of all production and service losses and anomalies caused by the absence or inadequate application of previous assumptions.Therefore, it is essential to constantly and regularly clean equipment and workstations, schedule these activities and keep their records. When cleaning the devices, it is also worth checking if they are operational and do not require any repairs or renovation.

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The 4S principle - SEIKETSU

Seiketsu is a standardization of all ideas, solutions and assumptions that arose during the first three stages. This step involves describing them and documenting them so that they are available to all employees. Standardization concerns both the appearance of the workplace and the creation of all kinds of instructions and diagrams, schedules for cleaning and audits, creating checklists or even photos of the initial state. It's also a good idea to have boards to remind you to apply certain rules and workspace maps. At this stage, 5S leaders are also selected, for whom lists of tasks and duties are developed that must be followed by both them and the employees they audit.

The 5S principle - SHITSUKE

Self-discipline is the last issue in the 5S rule. It is an integral part of this Japanese standard. It mainly concerns the observance and support of all previously created rules and standards, as well as their deadlines and methods of implementation. Its purpose is to encourage people to maintain cleanliness and practices that support it. Numerous audits and tests are important at this stage. A good idea supporting this standard are kaizen workshops or adding the need to work based on 5S to the job description of all employees. This may induce them to comply with the accepted standards, especially if it is one of the factors determining their periodic assessment. It is also important that each new employee, as part of the initial training, could become familiar with the 5S rules prevailing in the company, so that he could freely adapt to them.

To sum up, the 5S principle allows for the stable development of the company and the reduction of waste. It also improves the safety of employees, and thus reduces accidents (especially in production areas) and reduces the number of failures and delays. Certainly, it is a solution worthy of attention in every self-respecting Polish company.