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What is 5S System ? | Meaning, Steps, Advantages & Disadvantages of 5S

5S House Keeping

What is 5S House Keeping ?

5S is a Japanese philosophy and a way of organizing and managing the workspace and workflow with the intent to improve efficiency by eliminating waste improving flow and reducing process unreasonableness. It was made popular by Taiichi Ohno the designer of the Toyota Production System (TPS), and Shigeo Shingo, a Japane industrial engineer who is considered as the world's leading expert on manufacturing practices and exponent of the concept "Poka-Yoke" (a Japanese term that means "mistake-proofing" or "inadvertent error prevention"). 5S is the initial stage of the quality excursion by an organisation, which after sometime move to other higher techniques to ensure further improvements in quality. 

5S is basically a house-keeping tool used by manufacturing unit during the deployment of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM). The underlying principle behind the 5S concept is that the recognition of wastage is considerably easier in a well laid out clean and clutter-free workplace.

By tradition, 5S concept has been successfully applied by the manufacturing units. However, of late many service organisations (e.g., banking/insurance/hotel industries and IT-enabled services) have also used 5S house-keeping tool in an effective and efficacious manner.

What Are the 5 S's ?

The five S (in Japanese language) are Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu and Shitsuke, the rough English equivalent thereof are Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize and Sustain respectively. The essence of 5S may be stated as under : 
"Only what is needed, in its proper place, clean and ready for use".

5S Methodology

The Steps of 5S are as follows :

5S House Keeping

First S - Seiri - Sort - Organize

The emphasis of first 'S' of the 5S, i.e. 'Sort' is on removal of unwarranted articles from the work area uncluttering). This involves identification of necessary articles and unnecessary articles which are separated and segregated thereof, for which some yardsticks need to be determined. Thereafter, unnecessary articles are rejected and removed from the workplace, whereas the necessary or required articles are again subjected to segregation in accordance with the frequency of their use and placed under one of the following three groups : 
  1. Needed frequently on a regular basis
  2. Needed infrequently or occasionally
  3. Seldom needed
When the segregation is over, all the articles are stored according to the frequency of their usage. Articles, which are needed frequently on a regular basis, are kept at an easily accessible place near the point of use. Articles, which are used occasionally, may be kept at a slightly away place, but ease of their availability without any difficulty needs to be ensured. Articles, which are rarely used, may be stockpiled still long extent, even outside the area. In the next step, appropriate quantities of each article are assessed and only that level is maintained objects in excess of that requisite level are re-positioned or rejected, so that appropriate levels are sustained in respect of each item. Unwanted articles accumulated at workplace over a period of time, at a pace so slow that at times it goes unobserved. Sorting is an ongoing process and the core of 5S, as it creates a clutter-free environment from time to time.

Second S - Seiton - Straighten - Orderliness

The second 'S' of the 5S philosophy is 'Seiton' or orderliness, which is the step next to the 'Seiri'. Consequent upon the elimination of unwarranted/useless articles from the workplace, the remaining useful articles need to be taken care of by properly arranging them through the application of modern storage techniques in an efficient manner. They need to be organized in such a manner that their retrieval, use, and return to the specified place remain smooth and hassle-free. The essential feature of 5S system is that any new person, unfamiliar with the area should find it very easy and convenient to locate, use, and return any the items required in connection with performing his job. For this, it is necessary that items/articles used in a frequent manner are kept at the proximity of the user, whereas those used in a irregular manner may be kept at a extreme end.

The second 'S', viz. 'Straightening' offers an occasion for creativity and innovation. The achievement required to be attained through this exercise may be best described through the following phrase 
"A place for everything and everything in its place".

A number of techniques are available for bringing about the orderliness, e.g. shadow boards, color coding, visual indicators, etc.

Third S - Seiso - Shine - Cleanliness

"Sorting" and "Orderliness' followed by "Cleanliness", which is the third 'S' of the "5S philosophy". In a manufacturing milieu, it is a task much beyond the routines like cleaning of windows, equipment, light fixtures, ceilings, tiles, etc. and covers thorough cleaning of walls and floor, desktops and counters, sinks, carts, and anything and everything else, which needs to be cleaned. In case of the items, which cannot be cleaned, they may be considered for getting painted, replaced or covered. The basic idea is that the appearance of the workplace should have an aura of cleanliness and brilliance, so that the people working there have a feeling of delight and pride to be part of such an atmosphere. In many organisation, this job (implementation of third 'S') is entrusted to a separate department.

Fourth S - Seiketsu - Standardize - Stabilize

Implementation of the third 'S', viz. cleanliness needs to be followed by the fourth 'S', i.e. Seiketsu or Standardize/Stabilize. It is of paramount importance, keeping in view the fact that in the absence of fourth 'S', the phenomenon of regression (of first three 'S' already achieved) setsin slowly in a phased manner. The pace of regression is so slow that it remains unobserved for a considerable period of time. The appearance of workplace starts undergoing changes due to gathering of dust, and various articles, such as books, files, computers, other equipment, etc. are found scattered, instead of being at their respective right places. This is the right time for the fourth 'S' to enter the scene and play significant role in bringing everything to order. This phase of the 5S system is vital as far as the overall success of the system is concerned, as this is the backbone of other lean initiatives.

Standardization facilitates sustenance of the benefits accrued through the successful implementation of the first three 'S'. It is the responsibility of each and every one to ensure the maintenance of the benefits already achieved, for which they are supposed to know what is expected from them. For this, they need to be educated in the areas of communication skills, kanban, visual controls, and general house-keeping.

Fifth S - Shitsuki - Sustain - Discipline

The fifth "S" of the "5S" relates to the inculcating the habit of being disciplined. It has been established through various researches that the time taken for developing a habit is twenty one days (three weeks). Shitsuki the final stage of 5S system, and is of high importance, inasmuch as in the absence of its appropriate implementation, the gains obtained through the successful implementation of first four 'S' would also be wiped out, and the bound to be back to square one. Sustenance of the organisation earlier gains is the most significant aspect of the system. Discipline is not easy to implement, but the same time it is not very difficult either. With the cooperation from all the levels of hierarchy, it can be implemented and the fruits of '5S' system may be reaped.

Advantages of 5S House Keeping

The implementation of 5S system of house-keeping may be implemented by a business organisation without much of a hindrance, provided there is a strong will to do so. It is worthwhile, keeping view the following benefits of having the system in place :

1) 5S Simplifies Processes : 
Simplification of processes is an automatic outcome of the department-wise examination of the workflow, ensuring the workplace to be clutter-free, availability of requisite materials with ease. bringing about the discipline amongst the workers, etc.

2) 5S Increases Materials Visibility : 
Location of various materials is fixed and they are stocked at the stipulated place only. This makes them to be easily visible, and as a result if any of the items are about to run out of stock, it cannot remain unobserved. Necessary action may promptly be taken, and an 'out of stock like situation is completely averted.

3) 5S Re-Energizes the Workforce : 
'5S' system is basically driven by the employees. They are authorized and responsible for key work areas, decisions like 'what stays' and 'what goes are only taken by them. The obvious outcome is cleaner, clutter-free, and efficient work spaces.

4) 5S Improves Quality of Management : 
With the elimination of unwanted clutter, the Work-in Progress (WIP) becomes prominently visible. The location of Raw Materials (RM) is fixed, which facilitates instant information with regard to the timings of their shortages. Similarly, location of the Finished Goods (FG) is also prescribed, which is helpful in giving indication whether they are as per the schedule.

5) 5S Improves Quality of Changing Over to Occasional Production Runs : 
Under the 5S system of house-keeping the locations of materials and processes are planned and properly marked, which goes a long way in eliminating any confusion, and improving the quality of product.

Disadvantages of 5S House Keeping

Disadvantages of the 5S system of house-keeping are only a few, which are as under: 
  1. People do not welcome any change, as over a period of time they develop a level of comfort and become used to of the prevailing method/procedures, irrespective of the fact whether those procedures are efficacious or otherwise. Any drastic change in the routine practices may unnerve and disturb them. Therefore, there is always initial resistance to any change Introduction of the 5S system of house-keeping is no exception to that.
  2. Bringing new systems and orders, which were developed over a long period of time, involves a lot of time and patience. As the partial changes do not serve the purpose, the entire system needs to be cleaned up and new things need to be introduced. This is likely to pose a major challenge.
  3. Sustenance of the initial drive should have full support of the Top Management, in the absence of which the desirable results may not be forthcoming.

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