5S is one of the cornerstone practices of lean manufacturing. It is a systematic framework for workspace organization based on the idea that a better work environment results in better operations, which in turn leads to better products.
5S provides five key steps for maintaining an efficient workspace in order to improve the quality of products: sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain.
More than ensuring that a workspace is neat and aesthetically orderly, 5S focuses on keeping everything in its place to maintain consistency in the work environment. Eliminating inconsistencies reduces disruptions to production processes, in turn resulting in reduced waste and a more predictable (and higher) quality of output.
5S to Reduce Waste
A cornerstone of lean methodology, 5S operates on the principle that reducing waste in production processes can add value to the products. The Toyota Production System (TPS) defines the 8 forms of waste in lean as:
- Defects: When a product is not fit for use it must be scrapped or reworked, adding cost to the production process without adding value.
- Waiting time: Unevenness in the work environment can lead to people waiting on material or equipment, or machines idling, and can result in overproduction or excess inventory.
- Extra motion: Unnecessary movement can place strain on personnel and not add additional value to the customer.
- Excess inventory: Excess inventory can cause inefficiencies and cause delays in the detection of problems. Problems can accumulate, and with more inventory, problems take longer to solve.
- Overproduction: Producing too much before it is required obstructs a smooth flow of work, raises the costs of production and storage, hides defects inside work-in-progress, and increases lead time.
- Extra processing: Excess activity as a result of poor tool or product design.
- Unnecessary transportation: Moving items that are not necessary for the process.
- Unutilized talents: Under-utilizing skills or assigning tasks to employees with insufficient training. 5S provides a methodology that reduces these wastes by maintaining a systematically organized workspace in which problems immediately become apparent and are easily detected and fixed.