What are 5S ?: Origin, Definition, Objectives, How to Implement, Advantages and MORE

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In this article we will explain What is 5S? To begin with, it can be said that it is a method of five simple principles. Its name originates from the Japanese language, because this technique began in this country.

This system is used today by a large number of companies, to improve quality and their business management. It can be in cleaning, organization or among other areas Read on to find out more about this concept!

Origin of the 5S

5S It was developed in Japan and is considered one of the technologies for just-in-time manufacturing. To understand and apply the 5S to the business environment, two main frameworks have emerged, one proposed by Osada and the other proposed by Hiroyuki Hirano.

Hirano provides a framework for improving the program through a series of identifiable steps, each based on its predecessor. As John Bicheno pointed out, Toyota defined Hirano’s method as “4S” and Seiton and Seiso were merged.

Before this Japanese management framework, Alexey Gastev and the Soviet Central Labor Institute (CIT) in Moscow proposed similar “scientific management”. Where a good result could be obtained.

With moderately good results. He joined Toyota in the 1960s with the goal of establishing a permanently clean, orderly and organized workplace to increase productivity and improve the work environment.

Currently, they are part of the most used production systems, Lean Manufacturing, TPM, Monozukuri, Toyota Production System, and are among the most used tools together with Kaizen.

The 5S method It has been widely disseminated and many organizations are using it, such as: industrial companies, service companies, hospitals, educational centers or associations.

The principles underlying the 5S may be the easiest to understand in Lean thinking, or it may be the least costly tool. Even so, 5S or Lean 5S is still a powerful tool that can generate huge benefits, but it is difficult to get the most benefits.

This method owes its name to the fact that these five principles have their name in the Japanese language, which are: Seiri (eliminate), Seiton (order), Seiso (Clean), Seiketsu (Standardize) and Shitsuke (discipline).

What is 5S?

5S is a workplace organization method that uses a list of five Japanese words: seiri, seiton, sixō, seiketsu, and shitsuke. These have been translated as “Order”, “put in order”, “shine”, “standardize” and “maintain”.

The list describes how to organize a workspace for efficiency and effectiveness by identifying and storing the items used, maintaining the area and items, and maintaining the new order.

The decision-making process usually comes from a dialogue about standardization, which fosters understanding among employees about how they should do work. In some industries, 5S has become 6S, with the sixth element being security (insurance).

Aside from a specific standalone methodology, 5S is often seen as one element of a larger concept known as a visual control, visual workplace, or visual factory.

Under those (and similar) terminologies, Western companies were applying underlying 5S concepts prior to publication. It can be considered that the creator of this method is “Hiroyuki Hirano” due to his development to maintain order.

For example, a photo of the Tennant Company (a Minneapolis-based manufacturer) workplace organization quite similar to the one accompanying this article appeared in a manufacturing management book in 1986.

Goals of the 5S Technique

Seiri: You are sorting all the items in one location and removing all the unnecessary items from the location.


  • Reduce wasted time searching for an item by reducing the number of unnecessary items.
  • Reduce the possibility of distraction with unnecessary items.
  • Simplify inspection.
  • Increase the amount of usable space available.
  • Increase safety by removing obstacles.

Seiton: You are placing all the necessary items in the optimal place to fulfill their role in the workplace.


  • Make your workflow smooth and easy.

Six: Sweep or clean and inspect the workplace, tools, and machinery regularly.


  • It improves the efficiency and safety of the production process, reduces waste, prevents errors and defects.
  • Keep the workplace safe and easy to work with.
  • Keep the workplace clean and pleasant to work with.
  • When in place, anyone unfamiliar with the environment should be able to detect any problems within 15 m (50 ft) in 5 seconds.

Seiketsu: You should standardize the processes used to classify, order, and clean the workplace.


  • Establish procedures and schedules to ensure the repetition of the first three “S” practices.

Shitsuke or sustain: They are the processes developed by the self-discipline of the workers. It also translates to “do it without being told.”


  • Make sure you follow the 5S approach.

How to achieve the 5S Implementation in a Company

Seiri Implementation:

  1. Check all items in a location and assess whether their presence at the location is useful or necessary.
  2. Remove unnecessary items as soon as possible.
  3. Place those that cannot be removed immediately in a “red tag area” so they are easy to remove later.
  4. Keep the work floor clear of materials except those in use for production.

Seiton Implementation:

  1. Arrange the workstations in such a way that all tools / equipment are close by, in an easily accessible place and in a logical order adapted to the work carried out.
  2. Position components according to their uses, with frequently used components closest to the workplace.
  3. Organize all the necessary items so that they can be easily selected for use.
  4. Make it easy to find and collect the necessary items.
  5. Assign fixed locations for items.
  6. Use clear labels, marks, or suggestions to make items easy to return to the correct location and to make it easy to spot missing items.

Sixth Implementation:

  1. Clean workplace and equipment daily or at another appropriate cleaning interval (high frequency).
  2. Inspect the workplace and equipment while cleaning.

Seiketsu Implementation

  1. Develop a work structure that supports new practices and makes it part of the daily routine.
  2. Make sure everyone knows their responsibilities for sorting, organizing, and cleaning.
  3. Use photos and visual controls to help keep everything as it should be.
  4. Review the status of the 5S implementation regularly using audit checklists.

Shitsuke Implementation

  1. Organize training sessions.
  2. Perform regular audits to ensure that all defined standards are being implemented and met.
  3. Implement improvements whenever possible. Worker input can be very valuable in identifying improvements.
  4. When problems arise, identify their cause and implement the necessary changes to prevent them from recurring.

What are the Other S’s?

Over time, some companies expanded the original 5S and adopted features or new “S’s” that some companies consider important. In this way, the 5S can be inferred as a concept of continuous improvement and it becomes a living tool that changes with the needs of the company.

For what is considered of great importance new “S” in the business world. Because the way in which everything can be organized in any company is evolving. Because of this, then other S’s can be:

  • Shikari: Stable.
  • Shitsukoku: Commitment
  • Seishoo: Coordination.
  • Seido: Synchronization.


The benefits obtained by implementing a program of the 5S They are exponential, but for this, the entire organization must work together. Some of its advantages are:

  • Increase in the quality of the product or service.
  • Productivity increase.
  • It provides the necessary foundation to implement other quality programs.
  • Makes it easy to spot bugs, misplaced objects, and other issues that require attention.
  • Accident prevention.
  • Improvement of work environment.
  • Improves quality of life at work.
  • Decrease in number of breakdowns and increase in tool life.

The tool 5S It is a continuous improvement process that does not require high-level knowledge, but involves fairly basic topics, and consists of 4 processes, where its Japanese words begin with S. If you want to know about a company that applies it, click here.

The 5S method has expanded from manufacturing to the present and has been widely used in many industries such as healthcare, education, and government. Consequently, good results.

These stages will eliminate redundant parts, order, clean and inspect, standardize and self-discipline to maintain the previous steps. So each step complements the other, and if one step fails, the other probably will.

Although any of the above steps are not technically complicated, disciplinary requirements have caused many of these projects to fail. Therefore, it is considered an important aspect for each company and brings with it important benefits for the company.

Thank you for reading!

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