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The Importance of 5S Methodology in Manufacturing

The 5S methodology is a workplace practice intended to provide a sense of structure within work environments. Originating in Japan’s manufacturing industry and duplicated by different workplaces throughout the globe, 5S has proven to be an effective practice that enables smooth transitions throughout workplace environments. In the world of manufacturing, 5S provides a level of organization that permits for machinists to be efficient. This article will discuss 5S methodology; each S and the benefits they provide to manufacturing companies.  



Sort describes the practice of sorting the different types of elements within a workspace. When it comes to manufacturing, sorting would include elements such as material sorting, machine sorting, etc. The idea is to not mix and match and to sort by categories so for example a manufacturing company would sort and separate a milling machine from a turning machine. Implementing the sort method allows for machinists to easily locate and use a specific machine or tool, it also reduces confusion, allows for extra space, and enhances safety measures.  


Set in order:  

The objective of set in order methodology is to place all workplace tools in an area relevant to their use. In the case of manufacturing set in order; the methodology would be ideal for organizing items such as screws. For example, having a box full of various screws would not be conducive to productivity because it would require a machinist to eyeball the measurement of a screw for instance a ½-inch screw. Rather than having a box of various screws, it would be beneficial to have 10 different boxes of screws that are separated by size such as ½-inch, 1-inch, etc. When implementing set in order methodology it would be logical for a manufacturing company to have a dedicated area meant to store tools; those tools should be easily accessible and sequenced based on the frequency of use. It would be appropriate to tag the specific area so the machine operator would know exactly where to look.



In manufacturing, the cleaning of a tool, equipment or workstation is very important to the productivity of not only the machinist but the entire production floor.  We recommend that when a machinist is finished utilizing a particular tool or equipment that he or she thoroughly cleans it 

before moving on to the next task. We also recommend that at the end of every workday that every workstation is cleaned from top to bottom, leaving a shining impression on the production floor. This improves productivity because machinists will not have to spend the first part of their day cleaning up after themselves, it also allows for a safe environment in which machinists can feel a sense of security and confidence within. 



Standardize is the practice of following the routine required for workplace maintenance. In conjunction with the expectations of ISO, standardize methodology ensures the continued pursuit of the first 3 S; sort, set in order and shine. Similar to ISO procedures which outlines the proper use of equipment for example a milling machine, in which a machinist must understand the functions of the machine and how to start and finish a job, this is the same idea for standardized.  The goal is to set the standard as to how things should be properly done within a workplace environment, the tiniest procedure can be standardized for instance how to sweep a production floor, one would be expected to sweep from one end to the other rather than from the center. Standardization requires testing of procedures and once properly achieved it should be shared throughout the workplace. Implementing reminders such as visual photos of how things should be done is an effective way to certify that procedures are followed accordingly.  



Sustain also referred to as self-discipline is the nature of completing workplace procedures without being told. With employee training, the goal of sustain is to avoid having to micromanage employees. Understandably, a new employee would have to adjust to the ways of a workplace, but it is expected that after time he or she will adjust to how procedures must be complete. Techniques that can assist with the sustain method are completing regular company audits, identifying areas in need of improvement, and identifying alternative solutions that curb unexpected issues.  


Safety 6s: 

Implemented in more recent years safety is the 6th S and is meant to ensure workplace safety. The objective of safety is to make certain that whatever is done within the workplace is done safely, including 5s methodology; this is not only to ensure the safety of employees but also the entire workplace. Every company should have a dedicated individual who is responsible for maintaining the safety etiquette of a work environment and the employees.  



To conclude, 5s methodology was originally developed for manufacturing and has spread throughout different workplaces. Its proven effectiveness is why we believe that it should be adopted by every type of manufacturing company, through our own experience we have seen the benefits of how 5s methodology provides order as well as organization within the workplace. There is no harm in implementing 5/6s methodology within your workplace, in fact, it will permit greater efficiency as well as productivity.