5S and Continuous Improvement

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5S represents 5 disciplines to maintain visual management within the workplace. 5S represents a systematic approach for productivity, quality and safety improvement in all types of business environments. It is one of the important approaches in the journey of continuous improvement.

5S simplifies and organises your work environment, reduces waste and non-value activity, whilst improving quality, efficiency and safety.

5S uses five Japanese disciplines:

  • Seiri (Sort, Clearing, Classify)
  • Seiton (Set in order, Straighten, Simplify, Configure)
  • Seiso (Sweep, shine, Scrub, Clean and Check)
  • Seiketsu (Standardise, Stabilise, Conformity)
  • Shitsuke (Sustain, Self Discipline, Custom and Practice)

The Five S program focuses on having visual order, organization, cleanliness and standardisation. The results you can expect from a Five S program are: improved profitability, efficiency, service and safety.

5S is the foundation step in the TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) model, which is a holistic approach to equipment maintenance that strives to achieve perfect production.

TPM emphasizes proactive and preventative maintenance to maximize the operational efficiency of equipment. It blurs the distinction between the roles of production and maintenance by placing a strong emphasis on empowering operators to help maintain their equipment.

The eight pillars of TPM are mostly focused on proactive and preventative techniques for improving equipment reliability and are shown in the diagram below.

It should be reasonably intuitive how 5S creates a foundation for well-running equipment. For example, in a clean and well-organized work environment, tools and parts are much easier to find, and it is much easier to spot emerging issues such as fluid leaks, material spills, metal shavings from unexpected wear, hairline cracks in mechanisms, etc.