5S (Five S) Method - Basic Discussion


Our factory is about to introduce the 5S-Method from Kaizen (Seiri; Seiton; Seiso, Seiketsi, Shitsuke).

I was wondering if any of you have experience in introducing this method.

-What is the main problem in the introduction ?
-did you introduced this method only in the manufacturing or in the administration as well ?
-How did you motivate the employees?
-How long was the introduction time?
-Did you have a support of a coach during the introduction?

Thank you very much for your input
Urs V
Elsmar Forum Sponsor

Laura M

We implemented in the managers offices areas first..administration if you'd like, to show employees we meant business. Clean desks every nite, place for everything and everything in its place for supply cabinets, labeled file drawers so folks other than the secretary could find stuff, and yes, even yellow outlines on desks for the stuff required (which WAS a little obnoxious). Have fun with it, we took a Friday to make a pile of all our excess pens, pencils, extra file folders,etc....stuff not needing to be in your desk all the time, and found enough pens/pencils to stock the supply cabinet for about 6 months. Some depts took the next step to organizing individual filing systems for similar jobs exactly the same color coding etc....so if you switch jobs within the same department....you knew where everything was.

Most of this was simultaneous with mfg applications. Have the 'bosses' get dirty with the "clear." Empty the department and determine exactly what is needed daily and put back only that stuff.

Not sure how far along you are, but have a plan for "labeling" so from dept to dept there is consistency. For example: Yellow means raw material storage, green means finish product, red rejects, etc.

Bottom line with the admin side, is you want to motivate employees to keep their workspace organized out on the floor, and how can you do that when they walk into an unorganized office. Yes, they may work in a production environment, but it is "their" workspace, and if its important for them it should be important for managers.

I don't think you can establish "how long" for an introduction, because it is a continuous improvement process.

Yes, we had help of a highly reknown consultant. He was from Japan, but worked with Jim Womack. You can do a websearch on his name and get to his website/company, I believe.

Lastly, I suppose the main problem was educating everyone on the benefits, which pretty much required constant reinforcement, and a couple of "good examples" after the effort of where it paid off.



You can hire an expert, for sure, but I think the more dificult thing is to decide to make it, starting of course with top management support, not only giving resources, buy assesing personaly the advance of the program.

I would say, in my experience, all you need is a simple serie of steps:
1.- Training in 5 S to ALL personnel. Those that will never will participate as auditors will always be audited.
2.- Select a representative of each department (if possible) to be part of the 5 S team, which will conduct periodical assesments of premises, including all tipe of places.
3.- Conduct audit using a format, making a numerical measurement and taking note of all non conform situation in order to f/up the resolution of them.
4.- Make a report. Give it to the responsible of audited area. Demand corrective actions. Communicate results to all personnel.
5.- A common effort of improvement (including a friendly competence, to be the best or the less worst).
6.- And finally, the most important: The top management has the compromise to allow the 5 S team audit his own offices. In several cases, the only places "skipped" by 5 S team are the big shoot ones because"they always have a neat place"

I hope my oppinion would help


Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!

Before implementing this tool, you must determine if your organizational culture is ready for this. By this I mean is your organization process-oriented or results-oriented? If you are results-oriented, then you need to change the thinking (a senior level directive). Otherwise, 5S won't help much.




Our process-

Take before picture of work area.
Train the workgroup (2hours)
Go out and do 5S at the end of the class.
Take after picture.
Everyone gets a 5S T-shirt.
Donuts are available if you wear your T-Shirt on Friday and 5S your area.

This 5S stuff is very simple and I was very pleased with the results. My staff (QC Inspection), reduced the number of stations from 2 to 1, got rid of two carts worth of unneeded stuff and gave some of it to people who needed it, clearly organized all our drawers so everything can be easily found, and reduced our cycle time by at least an hour. The entire project took an afternoon.

By a portable label maker and order plenty of jelly filled donuts.

Good luck and have fun.


Steven Truchon

This is a fascinating subject. I'll have to do some research on this. I believe Marc listed a link to some info. I'll have to keep my looking a secret though, between QS9000 and Six Sigma, I'll be lynched if I bring "another program" in the door. LOL

~ Steve Truchon
~ Quality Engineer/Safety Director


Dear Urs,

I’ve some experience on implementing 5S
I think since June when you have quoted your question, you have probably initiated the process.
The comments (answers) are very common sense and pertinent, it would be useless to add more.
I can say that I’ve developed thia model for both manufacturing and Services (admin) organizations. It’s very exiting.
I learned all about 5S from an excellent operational book edited by the JPC - (Japan Productivity Center – Socio-Economic development – Tokyo)
From the book, I developed my personal IPQP model (Integrated Productivity and Quality Improvement) for productivity Facilitators.
I’ve trained and implemented the model into 5 SME.
It has been impressive, it is at the same time TQM, Juran Continuous Improvement, ISO 9000-2000, Kaizen, Gemba-shugi, Shinin (Toyota), Poka-Yoke, 7QMT, 7QCT, etc………).
Six Sigma differs only in that: The implementation enforce alternating training and practices on real live breakthrough project.
Should you need more details please do not hesitate, all the documents developed while the implementation are available because they belong (SM) to me.
Giuseppe Maggioli
Managing Director
QUASYS Quality and Management Consulting SA
Ch. des Tourniaux 18 - CH-1277 Borex/VD - Switzerland
Phone: +41 22 367 1312, Fax: +41 22 367 1562
e-mail: [email protected]
internet: www.quasys.com.ch


You will like 5S. We use this frequently. Most of our clients are able to do it themselves, after we help them in just one area.

By all means, start in the office areas to set the example. We also like to implement it in shipping & receiving areas, because of the high visibility.

5S is a good way to kick-off teams within an organization. It appears to be a natural team builder. In fact, we normally do a 5S project PRIOR to team training. It makes the team stuff a breeze.

5S is a "must" for implementing Lean concepts. And, it's very beneficial to TQM.

If you need more info, feel free to contact us.


Jerry Kilpatrick & Associates
Fax: 413-556-5711
[email protected]
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