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What is 5S and how does it help to improve the performance of my business?

Many businesses have heard of 5S; it is a simple workplace organisation system that is designed to make workplaces more effective and more efficient, as well as safer.

Many businesses also try and fail at implementing 5S. It might be simple, but as you will know, anything that involves changing the behaviours of your staff isn’t always straightforward.

If you haven’t heard of 5S before there are five basic steps, all beginning with ‘S’. They are:

  • Sort – clearing out the clutter and re-distributing other people’s belongings.
  • Set in order – optimising the workplace so that everything you need frequently is close at hand.
  • Shine – cleaning the workplace to an appropriate level.
  • Standards – defining what good looks like and how you will keep it that way.
  • Sustain – forming the habits to retain the benefits of an organised and disciplined workplace.

Effective 5S Implementation

So, how does 5S improve the performance of your business?

From a safety perspective, fewer accidents means less downtime.

From an effectiveness perspective, if you have the right information at the right place at the right time you can make better decisions.

From an efficiency perspective, if you don’t have to spend time looking for what you need to do your job (data, materials, equipment) then you need less time to complete your tasks.

A lot of businesses have staff that think that 5S is all about tidying up. It is so much more than that.

Do you need 5S?

If you look around your workplace and ask yourself “is everything where is needs to be, well organised and quickly accessible?” you will be able to determine whether your business would benefit from a 5S overhaul.

There are other benefits to 5S also, including starting a dialogue about continuous improvement. Whilst you are supporting your team to re-invent their working area you are likely to find other improvement opportunities. Implementing appropriate improvements during the 5S implementation helps to build confidence and respect with the team and this can then be carried on long after the initial 5S implementation has concluded.

Done right, 5S can bring a lot of improvement to a business in a structured way. If you haven’t looked into it before I would highly recommend it.

Giles



About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.