Skip to the main content.

2 min read

What is 5S? Lean Manufacturing Simplified

5S? Lean Manufacturing

If a normal day at the office involves your employees running around like chickens with their heads cut off because they can never find what they're looking for, it's time for a change. Maybe you’ve heard about the benefits of lean manufacturing, but you have no idea how or where to start. Or maybe you’re not sure if your organization is ready to make that kind of change. If that sounds like your organization, then you as a manager or owner are probably looking for a simplified version of lean manufacturing.  The 5S system provides improved customer service, efficiency, safety and, our favorite, increased profitability.

What are the 5S’s?

5S is a component of the Kaizen principle of Lean Manufacturing. A key difference between 5S and lean manufacturing is that 5S focuses more on getting your workspace clean, neat, and organized than finding wasteful areas. However, just as in life, you can’t clean up without eliminating some waste in the process. That’s what makes it an excellent place to start if your company isn’t sure if it wants to go completely lean. The recommended 5 steps to accomplish this are: Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. It may sound simple, but that's what makes it so efficient. It involves minimal effort for the impact it will make on your business.

Step 1: Sort

If you’ve ever cleaned out your garage, then you're already familiar with the task of culling objects into two categories of keep or throw out. This step also aids in organizing and counting your inventory. It is important to refrain from hoarding unnecessary items, because that is an easy way to waste money on storage space. If in doubt, move it out!

Step 2: Set in order

Lay out a plan for how you intend to organize the remaining items. Make sure that wherever you decide to put your equipment and materials makes sense; i.e. keeping related items close together and keeping potentially hazardous items far apart. Also, set your methods for upkeep of the storage plan. In addition to saving money, doing this will save your company time by making it easy for employees to find what they need when they need it.  Another important step in set in order, is to keep the process of kitting in mind.  In other words, put items that are used in conjunction with one another together. Take for instance the process of shipping: you would keep tape, tape gun, packaging peanuts, boxes, and UPS labels together.  Do this for any repetitive processes in manufacturing.

Step 3: Shine

Now that everything has been counted and put away, it’s time for the real cleaning to begin. Inspect the work that has been done so far to make sure it was done right, and make any necessary corrections or improvements. Clean and inspect during the process of manufacturing goods so no defects are missed.

Step 4: Standardize

This is the stage where you establish best practices for your workplace. Set your standards for maintaining organization in the different work areas. For example, it is a good idea to schedule routine checks of your facilities to ensure all regulations are being followed. If it is found that there is an area your employees are struggling to maintain, then find the source of the problem and make the necessary changes.

Step 5: Sustain

Over time your procedures should become routine for the employees at all levels. Now that your company has come so far and your employees are working in clean areas, be mindful not to slip back into your old habits.

When done correctly, the 5S system provides improved customer service, efficiency, safety, and increased profitability. If you like the results and want to see further benefits of lean, then you've already done the prep work for getting your warehouse fully lean.

Clients First is an expert at implementing  Acumatica, Dynamics AX, and Dynamics 365 (which also made it into the leader quadrant). Contact our sales team today by calling 800.331.8382 or emailing Clients First implements and supports clients across the U.S.A. and in 11 countries. Our team of professionals is ready to help implement the best finance and operations solutions for manufacturers, distributors, project-based manufacturers, MROs (maintenance, repair and overhaul), and professional services providers.

Sources: Industry Week, Kaizen World

Inventory Guide to ERP


Manufacturing and Distribution ERP Solutions at the Pack Expo 2023

Manufacturing and Distribution ERP Solutions at the Pack Expo 2023

Top 4 Reasons You Don't Want to Miss Clients First AT THE Pack Expo 2023 Las Vegas! Join us at Pack Expo Las Vegas in booth SL-5873 at the South...

Read More
Advanced Manufacturing Expo 2023

Advanced Manufacturing Expo 2023

Leadership, Networking, Resources, and Technology ARE the focus of the Advanced Manufacturing Expo 2023 (AME 2023). Check out the manufacturing and...

Read More
Strategies to Optimize Manufacturing Production

Strategies to Optimize Manufacturing Production

Are you curious about the strategies used by leading manufacturers to optimize their production processes and resources? Have you ever wondered how...

Read More