Information presented is summarized from the book "5S for Operators" (see below)

This material is designed to provide an understanding of the basic concepts and tools used in a 5S workplace and the goals of a 5S event. It is a supplement and may be used by Event leaders for a training aid.

    1. Overview
    2. Sort Summary
    3. Set-In-Order Summary
    4. Shine Summary
    5. Standardize Summary
    6. Sustain Summary
    7. 5S Projects Agenda
    8. Further Resources




5S represents 5 disciplines for maintaining a visual workplace. These are foundational to Kaizen and a manufacturing strategy based "Lean Manufacturing" concepts. 5S is the starting point for improvement activities that ensure our company’s survival.

The 5 disciplines are:

1.  SORT - Remove all items from the workplace that are not needed for current operations. Leave only the bare essentials.

2.  SET IN ORDER – Arrange needed items so that they are easy to find, use and put away.

3.  SHINE – Sweeping, wiping-off equipment, painting and assuring everything stays clean.

4.  STANDARDIZE – Method to maintain the first 3 disciplines (sort, set-in-order, shine)

5.  SUSTAIN – A top-down support of the ongoing 5S process.

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Sort: This means that you remove all items from the workplace that are not needed for current production. You must first ask, "what job is performed here?" Leave only the bare essentials for the job. When in doubt, toss it out!

Why?... When the sort discipline is well implemented:

The Red-Tag Strategy:

This is simply a method for identifying potentially unneeded items in the factory or warehouse, evaluating whether they are needed, and dealing with them appropriately. As implied, red tags are used to identify items removed from the work area for evaluation.

In order to implement red-tagging effectively, a red-tag holding area must be created. People tend to be more ready to let go of questionable items if they are not needed after a given time of review. A red-tag holding area is an area set aside for use in storing red-tagged items that need further evaluation. Each department or production area that participates in red-tagging should create a local red-tag holding area to manage the flow of red-tagged items within the department or local production area. If items are not needed in the area, they can be reviewed in a central red-tag holding area, created to manage the flow of items that cannot be disposed of by individual departments.

There are seven steps in the red tag process:

  1. Launch the red tagging project
  2. Identify red tagging targets (specify the types of items and the physical work areas to be evaluated)
  3. Set red-tagging criteria. Ask three questions:
  4. Make red-tags (note: these are already made; see Administrative Assistant)
  5. Attach the tags
  6. Evaluate the tags
  7. Document results of red-tagging

Think of an item in your workspace that is not needed.

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Set-in-Order: Once Sort has occurred, this step ensures tools needed for a job are in place and arranged so that they are easy to find, use, and put back.

Why? It eliminates many types of waste in production and clerical activities. Examples are waist of looking for a tool and motion waste. Another important reason to Set-in-Order is that orderliness is the core of standardization. The workplace must be orderly before standardization can be implemented effectively.

Visual controls: Devices used as you Set-in-Order to communicate the standards for how work should be done. Make it obvious at a glance!


1. Decide on appropriate locations

2. Identify best locations once they have been decided.

(A place for everything, everything in its place!)

An example of signs is tool rack labels. Think of any more?

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SHINE: Keeping everything clean and readily usable.

Why? One of the key purposes of cleaning is to keep all equipment in top condition so that it is always ready to be used. When the third pillar is not well implemented, the problems that arise include: poor employee morale, safety hazards, equipment breakdowns, and an increased number of product defects.


  1. Determine Shine targets – What is to be shined?
  2. Determine Shine assignments – Who is responsible?
  3. Determine Shine methods – How will it be shined?
  4. Prepare Shine tools – What is needed to shine?
  5. Everyone has some responsibility in the work area
  6. 5S Schedules – Have a plan…
  7. 5 Minute Shine – Quick & easy!

Make it a habit! - Once daily cleaning and periodic major cleanups are a habit, inspection is incorporated into the Shine procedures. This turns "cleaning" into..."Cleaning/ Inspection."- Placeing greater emphasis on the maintenance of machines and equipment.


  1. Determine cleaning/inspection targets
  2. Assign cleaning/inspection jobs
  3. Determine cleaning/inspection methods
  4. Implement cleaning/inspection, using all your senses to detect abnormalities (unusual vibrations, odors, etc.)
  5. Correct equipment problems by repairing all defects immediately or (if your team can’t repair) making a formal request to the maintenance team to schedule the repair.
  6. Use Cleaning/Inspection Checklists

"What cleaning/Inspection activities do I do now?

How can using all my senses find problems when I clean/inspect?

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STANDARDIZE: This means creating a consistent way to carry out tasks and procedures. Everyone does it the same (documented) way. Make it a habit!

Why?: Without Standardize, improvements made with the first three disciplines would soon be lost as new employees are hired, people forget, etc. Standardize ensures sort, set-in-order, and shine are maintained in their fully implemented state.

Implementing: Done in two steps: Making It A Habit and Prevention

Making it a habit:

  1. Integrate-SORT, SET IN ORDER and SHINE into regular work duties

Everyone must know exactly what they are responsible for doing and exactly when, where, and how to do it. 5S work must be brief, efficient, and habitual. ( K.I.S.S.)


Prevention: (Taking it to the next level)

Unbreakable standardization means making Sort, Set in Order, and Shine procedures "unbreakable", where it’s difficult or impossible to do a task wrong. The three aspects of unbreakable standardization are:

Preventive Sort procedures - find ways to prevent unneeded items from accumulation in a workplace by keeping them from entering it!

Preventive Set in Order procedures – Keep Set-in-Order from breaking down by making it difficult or impossible to put things in the wrong place.

  1. Use the 5 "Why", 1 "How" approach
  2. Suspension
  3. Incorporation
  4. Elimination

(3) Preventive Shine procedures - Treat problems at the source. Get as close as you can to the problem.

How can the 5W1H tool be used to keep an area from getting dirty?

How can visual 5S be used to help distinguish normal vs. abnormal?

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Sustain means to make a habit of properly maintaining correct procedures over time. No matter how well implemented the first four 5S are done, improvement gains will be lost and 5S doomed to failure without a commitment to sustain it! 5S does not end at the conclusion of the 5S event. We must make 5S part of our work "culture" and a thorough habit.

Why? Ask yourself, "In your life in general, "why do I commit to sustain a particular course of action?" Usually, your decision is based on greater rewards for doing something than not doing it. Similarly, the rewards of implementing the five pillars are greater for you than the rewards if they are not!

Create conditions to help Sustain the commitment to 5S activities.

Tools to help Sustain:

You may be able to think of a few you’ve already seen used!

Am I willing to commit to 5S in order to reap the benefits?

How can I influence the culture of my work environment to help "make it a habit"?

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  1. What is 5S, and why do we want to do it?

  2. Define the target of our 5S project:

  3. Define the schedule for performing our 5S project:

  4. A meeting will be held prior to each day’s activities to plan and schedule what will be done (daily). The conclusions of chapters 3-7 in 5S for Operators handbook &/or the training summary pages will be used to structure each day’s activities.

  5. Overview training of project members in 5S (Day 1 only).

  6. A wrap-up meeting will be held to review what was accomplished (daily).

  7. Review and document results (at conclusion of 5S project)
  8. Note: "Before" pictures should be taken on day 1

  9. Celebrate conclusion of 5-s effort and results!

    Note: This usually includes a picture board and a tour


Further Resources:

  Excellent book on 5S.  Very readable and complete with lots of examples. The ultimate reference book on 5S.


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