The 5S technique: how to manage one’s workplace

A Japanese born technique to manage at best one’s workplace by applying, keeping and improving the key guidelines of Separation, Order and Cleaning.

Originally developed by JMA and applied in Japan since the 1950s, the 5S methodology has become one of the most recognized and used basic tools in the world for job optimization.

The name 5S originates from the initials of five Japanese words that designate the sequence of 5 steps provided by the technique itself.

1S SEIRI SEPARATION Separate the necessary from the unnecessary; eliminate the unnecessary
2S SEITON ORDER Place each material in well-defined positions to eliminate search times
3S SEISO CLEANING Regularly cleaning and ordering one’s working areas ; detecting problems
4S SEIKETSU STANDARDIZATION  Define and formally set the separation, ordering and cleaning standards
5S SHITSUKE IMPROVEMENT Keep and upgrade the standards and related outputs

The use of the 5S is a necessary condition for the construction of an excellent factory, for the implementation of a Lean system and for the achievement of targets relating to:

  • Safety
  • Quality
  • Efficiency
  • Rational use of space
  • Saving of resources and energy
  • Excellent corporate image

Like any other Japanese created methodology, even the 5S draw their strength from simplicity, which requires, however, absolute methodological compliance and perseverance above all, to ensure the maintenance over time of what has been achieved so far.

In many years of experience with projects where we have been implementing such technique, we can say that it is a valid tool both in capital intensive and labor intensive companies, both in production areas and offices.