The first time I encountered the term “5S” was during the first week of my working life.
The instruction was clearly delivered:
Always observe 5S while inside the client office.
“What is 5S”, I asked.
He answered, “Well, just ask your engagement teammate, he knows!”
Far later did I realize he may not even have known the exact meaning of 5S, or what do 5S actually stand for.
Nevertheless, here’s how 5S is defined in wikipedia:
- Seiri – tidiness, organization. Refers to the practice of sorting through all the tools, materials, etc., in the work area and keeping only essential items. Everything else is stored or discarded. This leads to fewer hazards and less clutter to interfere with productive work.
- Seiton – orderliness. Focuses on the need for an orderly workplace. Tools, equipment, and materials must be systematically arranged for the easiest and most efficient access. There must be a place for everything, and everything must be in its place.
- Seiso – cleanliness. Indicates the need to keep the workplace clean as well as neat. Cleaning in Japanese companies is a daily activity. At the end of each shift, the work area is cleaned up and everything is restored to its place.
- Seiketsu – standards. Allows for control and consistency. Basic housekeeping standards apply everywhere in the facility. Everyone knows exactly what his or her responsibilities are. House keeping duties are part of regular work routines.
- Shitsuke – sustaining discipline. Refers to maintaining standards and keeping the facility in safe and efficient order day after day, year after year.
Basically, the 5S discipline requires clearing out things which are not needed in order to make it easier and faster to obtain the tools and parts that are needed. This is particularly applicable in a manufacturing/production setting where JIT system is critical. In fact, try googling “5S” in your internet browser and you’ll only find topics related to effecient manufacturing/production process in the first page.
So, in that sense, we should always observe “5S” in our office.?