What are the 5S in Six Sigma?

5S in 6 Sigma

In a work environment, we cannot operate in a haphazard manner. It increases waste, reduces productivity, impacts delivery, and above all, results in customer dissatisfaction! So, by applying the 5S technique, we can solve the problem.

What is 5S?
The term came from the Japanese designer (at Toyota Production System) Taichi Ohno and Shigeo Shingo. 5S is a set of 5 Japanese words starting with S. Translated into English, all the words start with S as well. The 5S’s sequenced as a series of 5 steps as follows –

Step 1: Sort [Seiri]
In this step, the 5s concept practitioner has the responsibility to go through all the equipment, tools, and resources they have and determine which equipment or resources have to be retained on the work floor and which resources have to be eliminated. When they find tools that are not relevant to their work they can simply place back that equipment into the concerned departments. If they feel that some resources need to be completely eliminated from the workspace, then they have to put a red tag on that particular item and get authorization or permission from their senior officials before they dispose of it or recycle the item. In simple words, the practitioner has to segregate the important or useful things from the unnecessary thing and discard the unnecessary.

Step 2: Straighten or Set in Order [Seiton]
In this step, the 5S practitioner has to re-organize their workplace after eliminating unnecessary tools and equipment. Here the practitioner follows the simple philosophy of “a place for everything, and everything in its place”. This will help the other staff members locate the required resources easily and swiftly. This concept can be applied to any sector. In other words, the practitioner of 5S concepts arranges all the resources and tools in a systematic manner.

Step 3: Shine [Seiso]
In this step, the practitioner ensures that the equipment and tools are tidy and can be readily used by other staff members. If this concept is applied in the information technology sector, then the practitioner has the responsibility to delete all the irrelevant files and folders. In simple words, this concept focuses on tidiness and cleanliness in the workplace.

Step 4: Standardize [Seiketsu]
The practitioner can combine similar work activities in their facility and allot a workspace for that particular process in the work facility. For instance, if there are five lathe machines scattered across different locations doing the same work, then the practitioner can place all these units in one place so that better results can be achieved through constant monitoring of work processes. This concept can be applied in any sector to reduce redundancy.

Step 5: Sustain [Shitsuke]
This is the final step or stage in the 5S concept implementation. In this stage, the practitioner has to ensure that tools/resources are in neat and tidy condition and are placed where they are meant to be.

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Nazrul

About the author of the website: I am AKM Nazrul Islam, currently working in Japan. I have achieved a Master of Science (M.Sc) in Mechanical Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). Out of my 12 years of working experience, I worked in the thermal power industry for 7 years, renewable energy industry for 2 years, and research university for 3 years. I have low voltage, medium voltage, and high voltage electrical works licenses. I have published 11 scientific articles. I am a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Japanese Society of Mechanical Engineers (JSME), Institute of Engineers Bangladesh (IEB), Bangladesh Solar Energy Society (BSES).

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