Is there an action without a method

5S method


The 5S method is a systematic approach to designing your own work environment. The aim is to use a structured organization of the workplace to prevent activities that do not add value, i.e. waste (7 types of waste) to minimize. The 5S method is the basis for more Process optimizationas the Toyota production system (TPS), within the framework of which it was developed, or SMED. The method is synonymous with "5A", using German terms:

Sorting out, tidying up, cleaning the workplace, making arrangements the standard and complying with and improving all points.

Originally the five "S" are derived from the Japanese terms S.eiri, S.eiton, cream, S.eiketsu and S.hitsuke that describe the five steps of the 5S method. Translated logically, they mean: S.elect S.systematize, S.purge, S.standardize and S.practice self-discipline.


Seiri - Select

In the selection In the sense of sorting out, all elements are marked (-> Red Tag) and removed that are not required for the work to be carried out. This creates more space for the work equipment and materials actually required; clarity in the workplace increases.

Seiton - systematize

The arrangement of tools, supplies and materials in the workplace will be systematized. The criteria for this are ergonomics, frequency and order of use. All work equipment and its storage locations are marked in such a way that they are clearly assigned and deviations from the target status can be quickly identified.

Seiso - purge

The Clean of the work area is not just a question of hygiene. The cleaning also serves as an inspection, during which deviations from the target condition and defects in work equipment can be identified. It makes sense to identify the causes of the occurrence of pollution and, if possible, to remedy them sustainably.

Seiketsu - standardize

Work areas should - ideally across all production lines - standardized to enable employees to change jobs without getting used to or reorienting themselves. The standardization can e.g. B. relate to the arrangement of work equipment or the use of a uniform color code for different floor markings (path boundaries, pick-up areas, delivery areas ...).

The cleaning of the work areas can specify cleaning plans with defined standards. Is specified e.g. B. Which work equipment, surfaces or areas should be cleaned, how often and when, and what to pay special attention to during cleaning (critical areas in machines or systems).

In order to systematically identify and document deviations from the standard, 5S audit forms or 5S checklists can be created.

Shitsuke - practice self-discipline

Only by Self-discipline all rules can be adhered to and processes can be systematically monitored and continuously improved.

Advantages and disadvantages of the 5S method

The 5S method offers the following advantages and opportunities:

  • Increase in transparency
  • Time saving
  • Reduction of waste
  • Greater security
  • Simplified transfer of representation
  • Improve quality
  • Promotion of the work routine

The disadvantages and risks of the 5S method are:

  • excessive formalization of processes
  • reactive-corrective rather than proactive
  • Sustainability is based on self-discipline
  • only useful in connection with working standards
  • not adding value

5S method - no one-off action, but a long-term concept

So that the 5S method takes effect in the company and in the sense of a continuous improvement process works, it has to be firmly anchored in the corporate culture and integrated into the everyday work of the employees. In addition, the method should be distributed equally to all employees and management. Superiors have an important role model and auditing function in order to convince the employees of the method and to inspire them in the long term. It usually takes a certain amount of time for the 5S method to become established within the company culture. The workforce should therefore be supported again and again after the introduction and see how the 5S change their everyday life in a positive way. Until it is finally established as a standard, the concept should be used again and again at the workplaces. If the procedure is too hesitant, there is a risk of a relapse into the original state.