Origins of 5S
The history of 5S is not as clear as for some tools and seems to be fairly confused, some attributing it to Toyota and others to the Japanese Plant Maintenance Institute. Whatever the specific origins are it is clearly part of TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) and has been well absorbed into the Toyota Production System (TPS) and lean manufacturing. It seems to have been implemented as a specific methodology from the early 1970’s but was known of before this but not as a widely publicized and implemented tool.
The 5S Process, or simply "5S", is a structured program to systematically achieve total organization, cleanliness, and standardization in the workplace. A well-organized workplace results in a safer, more efficient, and more productive operation. It boosts the morale of the workers, promoting a sense of pride in their work and ownership of their responsibilities. "5S" was invented in Japan, and stands for five (5) Japanese words that start with the letter 'S': Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke. Table 1 shows what these individual words mean. An equivalent set of five 'S' words in English have likewise been adopted by many, to preserve the "5S" acronym in English usage. These are Sort, Set (in place), Shine, Standardize, and Sustain.
Table 1: Individual words of 5s mean
The first step of the "5S" process, seiri, refers to the act of throwing away all unwanted, unnecessary, and unrelated materials in the workplace. People involved in Seiri must not feel sorry about having to throw away things. The idea is to ensure that everything left in the workplace is related to work. Even the number of necessary items in the workplace must be kept to its absolute minimum. Because of seiri, simplification of tasks, effective use of space, and careful purchase of items follow.
Seiton, or orderliness, is all about efficiency. This step consists of putting everything in an assigned place so that it can be accessed or retrieved quickly, as well as returned in that same place quickly. If everyone has quick access to an item or materials, work flow becomes efficient, and the worker becomes productive. The correct place, position, or holder for every tool, item, or material must be chosen carefully in relation to how the work will be performed and who will use them. Every single item must be allocated its own place for safekeeping, and each location must be labeled for easy identification of what it's for.
Seiso, the third step in "5S", says that 'everyone is a janitor.' Seiso consists of cleaning up the workplace and giving it a 'shine'. Cleaning must be done by everyone in the organization, from operators to managers. It would be a good idea to have every area of the workplace assigned to a person or group of persons for cleaning. No area should be left unclean. Everyone should see the 'workplace' through the eyes of a visitor - always thinking if it is clean enough to make a good impression.
The fourth step of "5S", or seiketsu, more or less translates to 'standardized clean-up'. It consists of defining the standards by which personnel must measure and maintain 'cleanliness'. Seiketsu encompasses both personal and environmental cleanliness. Personnel must therefore practice 'seiketsu' starting with their personal tidiness. Visual management is an important ingredient of seiketsu. Color-coding and standardized coloration of surroundings are used for easier visual identification of anomalies in the surroundings. Personnel are trained to detect abnormalities using their five senses and to correct such abnormalities immediately.
The last step of "5S", Shitsuke, means 'Discipline.' It denotes commitment to maintain orderliness and to practice the first 4 S as a way of life. The emphasis of shitsuke is elimination of bad habits and constant practice of good ones. Once true shitsuke is achieved, personnel voluntarily...
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