The 5S designation corresponds to the five japanese words, seiri,seiton, seiso, seiketsu and sitsuke. This methodology defines the way company processes and goods must be kept and maintained. The decision making processes are usually produced based on the standarization posibility, what helps the employees to understand how their job should be done, also internalising the property of the process for the employee. It is intended to improve and maintain the working area in certain conditions of organization, order and cleaning much higher than previously, which impacts in the quality of the working conditions, in safety, in the working environment, in the personel motivation and in efficiency.
The 5S methodology is a part of the Kaizen systems (broader and more complex), designed to ensure control in plant working areas. Kaizen is a concept, the word is made from two terms Kai + Zen meaning "pass to a better welfare state", and is applicable to any scope, tipically Safety, Quality, Productivity and Environment, that's why some organisations call it 6S, when including a particular concept.
The steps are:
- Seiri - Organization: elements necessary and unnecessary are identified, with the target of removing them from the work areas. It is all included, tools, parts, instructions, etc. Necessary items stay in an accesible place and unnecessary is taken apart.
- Seiton - Order: It is to determine how elements are located and how to identify them, how to find them, use them and replace them quickly and easily.. "One place for each thing, and each thing in its place". Each element has its place, which is also identified or labelled.
- Seiso - Cleaning: It is to eliminate the sources of dirt, ensuring adequate cleaning elements exist and are always available. The working place must be sistematically clean, it takes some time, everyday.
- Seiketsu - Visual Assessment: It should be posible to differentiate a normal situation from an abnormal one, through simple norms and visible for any person. An standarized practice is reached when all know perfectly which are the responsibilities of each other.
- Shitsuke - Discipline and Habit: It is to achieve to maintain the established norms. It is the new way to work, it requires self-discipline. It allows to think about new improvements.
Globally, the first three "S" refer to operative activities and must be finished defore starting with the fouth "S". Seiton (2ndS) is one of the functions that differentiate the 5S from standarized cleaning systems and similar. In some sectors or activities, this phase can be understood also as a simplification.
When there are changes in teams, new products, etc, obtained standards must be modified togeher with 5S training actions.