5S Is More Than Just A Tool

5S Is More Than Just A Tool

5S: The canary in the coal mine of your process.

It isn’t often, in fact never have I walked through a workplace and thought 5S isn’t going to work here. Although the origins can be traced back to Ford and Toyota, I have seen 5S successfully deployed in a variety of different work environments – from libraries, warehouses, engineering offices, hospitals, construction sites, fabrication shops, and restaurants.

At first glance, often the questions I field are why 5S? What can I really get out of it? Commonly, this Lean tool is misconceived as general housekeeping and keeping things tidy. But a tidy shop or a tidy office doesn’t equate to practicing Lean. 5S is a foundational tool that reinforces a culture of continuous improvement. It supports Lean thinking, employee engagement and the outcome is much more than only improving efficiencies and maximizing value all while reducing the 8 process wastes of Lean. Your employees will be happier and your customers will be happier.

When 5S is properly deployed gaps in your process become easier to identify and this creates an opportunity for a collaborative discussion and coaching moments that lead to further improvements. If you follow the thinking behind why 5S is used rather than treating it purely as a tool – it will help teams identify and challenge problems in their workplace. When a worker doesn’t return a tool back to the shadow board or save a file in the right folder, it is not because the worker is lazy. There is a problem in the process. 5S is the canary in a coal mine, signalling you to take action!

Avel Espiritu, Founder and Director of Red-5 Enterprise Inc.
Avel Espiritu

Interested in learning more?
Dive into 5S with a Red-5 workshop or our Yellow Belt Certificate program that is led by an ASQ certified Six Sigma Black Belt, Contact Red-5.

Leave a reply