1.0 Introduction: What is the 5-S?
5-S stands for five Japanese words: Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu and Shitsuke (Osada, 19911). The English equivalent, their meanings and typical examples are shown in the following table:
Japanese factories are well-known for their cleanliness and orderliness. This results from their ability to instil a sense of responsibility and discipline into their workers, particularly at the plant level. The logic behind the 5-S practices is that organisation, neatness, cleanliness, standardisation and discipline at the workplace are basic requirements for producing high quality products and services, with little or no waste, and with high productivity.
Surprisingly, this powerful quality tool has been unknown in the west. The western world has just recently recognised the significance of the 5-S practice, although there are indications that some companies have included some aspects of the 5-S in their routines without being aware of its existence as a formalized technique. There are many examples of successful implementation of some principles of the 5-S, especially in the service sector organisations, such as fast food restaurants. supermarkets, hotels, libraries, and leisure centres.
2.0 A Brief history of the 5s system
A systematic approach to organizing, ordering, and cleaning had its origins in post-World War II Japan—probably in the mid 1950s. At the time, Japanese manufacturing companies were forced to produce with very few resources, so they developed a shopfloor method to make every scrap count while wasting nothing.
Originally, there were only four activities in the Japanese system. These activities, each beginning with the letter S, were
- Seiri (cleaning up),
- Seiton (organizing),
- Seiso (cleaning), and
- Seiketsu (systematic cleanliness).
Later, a fifth activity was added. Called Shitsuke (discipline), it completed the S elements that are now known as 5S. (Fabrizio A. & Tapping, 2006 , pág. 2).
3.0 Twelve types of resistance to the 5S
Any company introducing the 5S is likely to encounter various kinds of resistance, whether from the shop-floor or clerical staff. I group such resistance into the twelve types shown in Figure 1-1:
Twelve Types of Resistance to the 5S
- Resistance 1. What’s so Great about Organization and orderliness?
- Resistance 2. Why should I, the President, Be 5S Chairman?
- Resistance 3. Why Clean When it Just Gets Dirty Again?
- Resistance 4. Implementing Organization and Orderliness Will Not Boost Output.
- Resistance 5. Why concern ourselves with Triviality?
- Resistance 6. We Already Implemented Organization and Orderliness.
- Resistance 7. My Filing System Is a Mess – but I Know My Way Around It!
- Resistance 8. We Did the 5S Years Ago.
- Resistance 9. 5S and Related Improvements Are Just for the Factory.
- Resistance10. We’re Too Busy to Spend Time on Organization and Orderliness.
- Resistance 11. Who Are They to Tell Me What to Do?
- Resistance 12. We Don’t Need the 5S – We’re Making Money, So Just Let Us Do Our Work!
Resistance 1. What’s so Great about Organization and orderliness?
This direct resistance toward 5S implementation is like asking “Why make such a fuss over something so obvious?” or “You’re treating us like kids ordered to clean their rooms.” But the fact remains that 5S implementation is needed when the factory or office is not neat & organized. This particular resistance stems from the humiliation people feel when they think they are being treated like children. Therefore, the key is to eliminate such humiliation before implementing the 5S.
Resistance 2. Why should I, the President, Be 5S Chairman?
More times than I care to recall, company presidents have said something like: “You don’t really expect me to get involved in something as trifling as Organization and Orderliness?” Instead, they want to assign the 5S chairmanship to the middle manager. “After all,” they add, “I have more important things to do – like manage the company’s sales and business policies.”
I would be the first to agree that sales and business policies are important. However, believe it or not, the 5S are even more important as a foundation of corporate strength. Obviously, some presidents don’t believe this – but were the company 5S foundation to be destroyed, they would soon find out what I mean. Nor do many presidents understand how difficult it can be to implement the simple 5S. 5S implementation requires leadership, and top management just abandon its vain preconceptions and get personally involved.
Resistance 3. Why Clean When it Just Gets Dirty Again?
Factory people tend to accept dirtiness as an inevitable condition in their workplace. They argue that cleaning it up would do little good since it would soon get dirty again. When employees are indifferent to making and maintaining improvements, it is not surprising that defect rates remain high and productivity low. Acceptance of unclean conditions in a workplace must be eliminated.
Resistance 4. Implementing Organization and Orderliness Will Not Boost Output.
This objection is heard most often in busy factories. Usually, it is spouted by shop-floor people standing in a pigsty asserting that “our job is to make things”. Some workers – and their managers – judge productivity by how much they move and sweat. This is fine at the athletic club, but not in the factory. In a factory motion is often a form of waste. Everyone must learn the important difference between “moving” and “working”.
Resistance 5. Why concern ourselves with Triviality?
The culprits here are typically middle managers such as leaders of teams, sections, or departments. I’ve heard these people say that dirt is a minor problem while standing on a factory floor drenched with oil or covered with a thick layer of machining chips.
Any manager who treats the 5S as trivial is really trivializing productivity and efficient management activity. After all, any manager who can stand on an oil-drenched floor and call dirt a minor problem is someone who might absentmindedly toss a cigarette butt onto that floor and cause a fire.
Managers who fail to promote neatness and order end up with a sloppy and undisciplined work force. For this reason, we must eliminate managerial disregard for the 5S.
Resistance 6. We Already Implemented Organization and Orderliness.
Some managers only consider the superficial and visible aspects of the 5S. They think that rearranging things a little and putting them into neat rows is all there is to it. Their factories tend to undergo a “makeover” just prior to the company president’s inspection tour – floors are swept, walls painted, and objects lined up neatly. However, such orderliness only scratches the surface of what the 5S are all about.
When the unsuspecting president enters the made-over factory, he is duly impressed and says something like “Wow, now I call that clean!” Usually never seeing behind the veneer of superficial Organization and Orderliness, he leaves the factory with a false impression.
Resistance 7. My Filing System Is a Mess – but I Know My Way Around It!
Some people are able to work around piles of papers and files. In fact, the sheer volume of the mess reassures them of their productivity.
I encounter people who actually get upset when I suggest that they clear off their desks. They mutter something like “Please leave me alone – I work better this way” and return to the comfort of their mess. Such people tend to be loners who avoid contact with others and like having a wall of books and papers around them. Theirs is a different world from the one that results from standardization and 5S implementation. The first step in standardizing clerical operations is to open up such private messes so that books and files are easily accessible to anyone who needs them.
Resistance 8. We Did the 5S Years Ago.
This type of comment is heard most often from people who think the 5S movement is a fad. If they attempted 5S implementation once 20 years ago, they don’t see why they should do it again.
The 5S are not a passing fashion. They actually are the fertilizer on the field of making improvements. They are the foundation of long-term corporate survival. People who don’t know this should be informed; people who think they don’t need to know it should get off their high horses. When I hear someone say they did the 5S 20 years ago, I am tempted to ask, “Has it also been 20 years since you took a bath”?
Resistance 9. 5S and Related Improvements Are Just for the Factory.
In some companies, while the manufacturing people energetically implement the 5S and other improvement and rationalization measures, the clerical and sales people assert that such measures have nothing to do with their kind of work. They do not realize that allowing documents and memos to litter desktops is the same as allowing dirt and cutting debris to litter factory floors. This is why 5S implementation must be a company-wide program.
Resistance10. We’re Too Busy to Spend Time on Organization and Orderliness.
In some workplaces, Organization and Orderliness are the first things ignored when things get busy. Soon we find jigs and tools left out, parts and materials piled in inconvenient places, and oil and grime building up on the machinery and floors. The excuse is always that “we’re too busy for that.” Are these people too busy to take showers and brush their teeth? What they’re really saying is that they don’t want to keep the place neat and clean, and this is their excuse. The truth is that their excuse are no more valid than their attitude toward cleanliness.
Resistance 11. Who Are They to Tell Me What to Do?
Most 5S implementations run into the human-relation problems early on. Someone might understand how important the 5S are but object to taking orders from the 5S promotion people. Once human relations become tangles up, it takes a long time to smooth them out. Consequently, it pays to form 5S promotion teams with members skilled at applying the 5S to human relations.
Resistance 12. We Don’t Need the 5S – We’re Making Money, So Just Let Us Do Our Work!
It can be difficult to implement the 5S or other improvement programs at companies that are currently profitable. If you point out that it is more efficient to keep only one box of parts on hand at each process, you will likely be countered with something like “Yes, but we’re doing alright, and this is the way we like to do it.” Generally, such people fail to recognize how many processes are involved in making a product. Instead of emphasizing the productivity of individual processes, we should look first at the overall production flow. Production has a rhythm, and this rhythm gets upset when workers care only about their individual processes. A poor rhythm has a negative impact on inventory and conveyance management, which in the end creates more waste, such as the extra time needed to find certain items. By allowing operators to do things their way, we grant a selfish kind of freedom that hurts everyone in the long run.
These types of resistance occur at every factory in the early stages of 5S implementation. If we ignore such resistance and plow ahead with 5S implementation, the result will likely be nothing more than superficial improvements. Instead, we must get everyone to truly understand just how necessary the 5S are while incorporating 5S implementation into ongoing improvement activities. This is how to lay a solid foundation for overall improvement. (Hirano, 1995, págs. 22-26).
Thorough implementation of the 5S affords many direct and indirect benefits. What I call the essential benefits are listed Figure 1-2
Figure 1-1. Benefits of the 5S.
Benefit 1. Zero Changeovers Bring Product Diversification
The trend toward product diversification accelerates with each passing day. Companies that continue to practice “shish-kebab production” are finding themselves unable to keep up with this trend To remain competitive, they must reduce to zero the extra time taken for retooling and other changeover operations, increase the frequency of changeover, and become more adaptive to product diversification.
- The orderly arrangement of dies, jigs, and tools eliminates a major form of waste (“searching” waste).
- Clean equipment and a near workplace help raise operational efficiency.
- Thorough implementation of the 5S’s makes workshops simple and logical enough for observers to understand with ease. Don’t use non-specified jigs for the sake of convenience.
Benefit 2. Zero Defects Bring Higher Quality
Defects result from many causes, including attaching the wrong parts and using the wrong jig. Organization and Orderliness prevent these kinds of errors. Further, keeping production equipment clean reduces equipment-operation errors and enables faster retooling. These and other 5S effects all add up to fewer defects.
- Defects are harder to discover when the workplace is a mess.
- Taking things from and then returning them to designated locations will help eliminate part and tool selection errors.
- Clean equipment tends to operate normally and without defects.
- A clean and well-organized workplace makes workers more conscious of the way they are making things.
- Proper maintenance and storage of quality-assuring inspections tools and measuring instruments is a prerequisite for zero defects.
Benefit 3. Zero Waste Brings Lower Costs
Factories and offices are virtual storehouses of waste. In Japan, a television slogan states that people who spend a lot of time talking on the telephone or carrying around to many papers cannot get much work done. And I agree completely. Big telephone talkers fail to implement Organization and Orderliness o shorten their phone conversations. People burdened with too many papers fail to implement Organization and Orderliness by hung or dis carding unnecessary papers. Long telephone conversations and armloads of papers are two forms of waste, and too much waste can prevent us from getting any productive work done. This applies to both factories and offices.
- Eliminate too much “stand-by waste” in in-process inventory and warehouse inventory.
- Eliminate too-much-w-carry waste” in handling documents or other materials.
- Eliminate overly abundant (unneeded) storage places (warehouses, shelves, cabinets, lockers, etc.).
- Eliminate “sand-by waste” in waiting for conveyance equipment (pallets, Carts, forklifts, etc.).
- Eliminate waste arising from unneeded desk supplies (too many pencils, erasers, etc.).
- Eliminate waste arising from unneeded allocation of space and equipment.
- Eliminate wasteful motion in searching. side-stepping. etc.
- Eliminate non-value-added actions (picking up, putting down, counting. carrying. etc.).
Benefit 4. Zero Delays Bring Reliable Deliveries
People who carry too many things mix useful and useless things. Shuffling through useless papers co 1nd what is important is a waste. Clearly, these people have failed to implement Organization and Orderliness in their minds. In the same way, sloppy thinking results in sloppy actions.
The same holds true in the factory Factories that lack thorough 5S implementation tend to produce defects no matter what they do to prevent them. Deadlines whiz by while everyone is busy reworking defective products. It is indeed hard to meet delivery deadlines in the face of problems like wasteful motion and too many errors and defects.
- When errors and defects are eliminated, deliveries can go out on time.
- We need good work environments and smooth, highly visible operations.
- Absenteeism is lower at 5S workshops.
- Work is more efficient in waste-free workshops.
Benefit 5. Zero Injuries Promote Safely
Injuries can be expected when items are left protruding into walkways, when stock is piled high in storage areas, or when equipment is covered with grime, swan, or oil.
Other common events at factories that fail to implement the 5S’s include confusion due to a lack of outlined storage sites, head-on collisions when forklifts turn corners without warning, hand injuries when operators attempt to fix stalled equipment without cutting the power first, injuries when tall stacks of inventory fall over unexpectedly, head injuries when crane hoist handlers forget to wear helmets, and hand injuries when press operators forget o press the safety switch before handling the press. “Safety First” is a good concept — once the 5S’s are in place.
- We can discover mechanical failures and hazards immediately when equipment is kept in spotless condition.
- Maintain well-defined places to put things, plenty of uncluttered aisles, and rest areas.
- Place things in a safe manner to prevent breakage, etc.
- Clearly mark fire-extinguishing equipment and emergency exits in case of fires, earthquakes, or other emergencies.
Benefit 6. Zero Breakdowns Bring Better Maintenance
Equipment should be routinely wiped and polished. Its condition should be evaluated as part of regular daily upkeep. When daily maintenance tasks are integrated w2th daily cleaning tasks, equipment will be ready for use and result in an improved “availability” ratio.
- Trash, dirt, and dust can lead to major equipment breakdowns and shorter equipment life.
- It is easier to see how equipment is running when the workshop is free of shavings, filings, and oil leaks.
- Nip breakdowns in the bud by maintain and checking the equipment daily.
Benefit 7. Zero Complaints Bring Greater Confidence and Trust
Factories chat practice the 5S’s arc virtually free of defects and delays. This means they are also free of customer complaints about product quality.
- Products from a neat and clean workshop are defect-free.
- Products from a near and dean workshop cost less to make. Products from a neat and dean workshop arrive on time.
- Products from a neat arid clean workshop are safe.
Benefit 8. Zero Red Ink Brings Corporate Growth
Companies cannot grow without the trust of customers. The 5S’s provide a strong, solid base upon which to build successful business activities.
- People from 5S workplaces gain the respect and trust of their communities.
- Customers are happy to buy from manufacturers that have eliminated waste, injuries, breakdowns, and defects.
- Factories with a solid 5S foundation arc more likely to grow.
- Fabrizio A., T., & Tapping, D. (2006 ). 5S for the Office: Organizing the Workplace to Eliminate Waste. New York, United State of America: Productivity Press.
- Hirano, H. (1995). 5 Pillars of the Visual Workplace: The Sourcebook for 5S Implementation. New York, United State of America: Productivity Press.
- Ho, S. (1999). Operations and Quality Management. London: Cengage Learning EMEA.