What is 5S in manufacturing?

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

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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 every day to perform the value-added work from what is not used or seldom used. Mark all unnecessary items with red tags from the workplace. Everything that moves should have a red, yellow or green tag.

Red Tag: Allocate a red tag area. Put unnecessary items there. Dispose of them at some frequency with the help of a team that is authorized 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 item in the factory should have a designated place. Define boundaries to identify locations and designated spaces.



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


To develop procedures and systems to maintain the first 3S. Standardize the daily practice of the above 3S. In this step, Visual management is focused. Once the first 3S has 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 maintaining 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 certification audit.

Keys to the successful implementation of 5S:

  • Get everyone involved. 5S is not the responsibility of some people. But it is concerning to everyone in the company.
  • Get management approval. You need a signboard, posters etc to promote 5S activities.
  • The plant Head and CEO should take 5S responsibility
  • To start with, use a pilot area for the implementation of the 5S. Take photographs of the area before and after the implementation of 5S.
  • Communicate the achievement. Display the before & After the status of an area, and 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 the number of kaizens


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