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Good Housekeeping = (Lean) 5S Method


There are several methodologies that exist and they all have been developed for different reasons and to solve different problems. Sometimes there are sub-methodologies that fall under larger methodologies. The 5S methodology is a system that falls under Lean practices.

The 5S method is a standardization system that when property implemented helped to create and maintain an organized, safe, clean and efficient workplace. There are several visual controls as part of the implementation of 5S to help enforce non-conformance and makes non-conformance easily detectable.

In all honesty, 5S principles are not rocket science and probably something that your grandmother could have shown you because they are basic housekeeping practices, structured with a catchy name.

Nonetheless, the tools are extremely effective in helping to eliminate waste.

1. Sort

Sort Desk

This is about going through the workspace, reviewing the items and evaluate every single item. Ask the question, is this absolutely essential for getting the job done. Whatever is not deemed essential should be eliminated or moved to a space away from high-access areas.

2. Set in Order

Set in Order Office Space

This is where you apply the principle of “there is a place for everything.” Ensure items are organized by function and by frequency of use. Often there is waste when looking for things when they are not where they should be or even worse when there is no system at all.

3. Shine

Shine Kitchen

This is how it sounds and it is about cleaning the workspace area. Dirty work materials can lead to equipment failure leading to loss of time caused by repairing or resolving. Poor cleanliness can also lead to safety issues and further inefficiencies.

4. Standardize

This step is likely considered the most important of the S’s. This is about work instructions, checklists, standard work, and other documentation. Often visual cues and visual management is utilized to help reduce decision-making time and to help train positive behaviors.

5. Sustain

This is about ensuring there is a continuation and no loss of the work put forward to ensure sustainability of the strong practices. Often to do this, an audit system is put in place to ensure there is consistency. This is also about ensuring there is a continuous challenge of the practices put in place to never stop improving.

Why Do it?

The benefits from a well-implemented 5S system leads to a workplace that helps to easily identify and reduce various forms of waste. An organized workspace can help to reduce excessive motion, wasted time looking for things, and when things are in place it is easy to spot things out of place.

There are several resources out there available to help explain and learn about 5S, however the gist of it is included here. The next step is putting it into practice in not only your workplace, but your home can benefit as well. Chances are you are already utilizing 5S practices, just not calling it this formal name.

Quick Questions

  • Have you benefited for 5S or similar practices?

  • What are your thoughts on 5S?

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