What is 5S in manufacturing?

5S is a five step program that is done in a sequential order. 5S is a series of activities for eliminating waste that contribute to rejections, mistakes and injuries in the workplace.The Japanese factories are so clean that you can eat off from the floor. This is simply a matter of pride for Japanese.

Below are the 5 Japanese words and their meaning:

 5S meaning


To segregate all the unwanted things and eliminate them. Sorting out all the things in the workplace is the first step. Separate what is needed everyday to perform the value added work from what is not used or seldom used. Mark all unnecessary item with red tag from the workplace. Everything that moves should have a red, yellow or green tag.

Red Tag: Allocate a red tag area. Put unnecessary item there. Dispose them at some frequency with the help of team which is authorize for disposal.


To arrange the necessary things in order so that they can be easily and quickly accessed. A place for everything and everything in its place. Seiton is tested by how fast you can put items away and retrieve them when needed. Every items in the factory should have a designated place. Define boundaries to identify locations and designated space.



Seiso is to keep everything neat and clean. The first cleaning will remove dirt and dust, second will be better and third cleaning will prepare for painting. All floors & all equipment should be painted. Cleaning should be everyone job belonging to his area. Everyone from CEO to helper should participate in cleaning process. Decide what to clean, how to clean, who will clean and how cleaning will be done. Make 5 minute cleaning a part of each job. This will increase ownership to the work. Display logo as ‘My area my responsibility’


To develop procedures and system to maintain first 3S. Standardize the daily practice of above 3S. In this step Visual management is focused. Once the first 3S have been implemented, focus on standardizing best practices in your work area. Standardized 5S activities charts are part of a visual factory.


To build a habit of properly maintain the defined procedures for continual improvement. It is the difficult part of the 5S program. Mostly in many factories 5S activity is done for some time only. It is done during any customer audit or any certification audit.

Keys to successful implementation of 5S:

  • Get everyone involved. 5S is not the responsibility of some person. But it is concerned to everyone in the company.
  • Get management approval. You need sign board, posters etc to promote 5S activities.
  • Plant Head, CEO should take 5S responsibility
  • To start with, use a pilot area for implementation of the 5S. Take photograph of the area before and after the implementation of 5S.
  • Communicate the achievement. Display the before & After status of area, shop floor. Also communicate the benefits of 5S to everyone

Benefits of 5S implementation:

  • 5S improves the safety
  • Significant saving of space
  • Improvement in productivity
  • Reduction in manufacturing cost
  • Improvement in quality
  • Better working environment
  • Improvement in number of kaizens


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