How can 5S be used in different industries?

When most people think about 5S they assume that it is going to be for manufacturing, or perhaps warehousing. The fact is, however, that the 5S strategies can be extremely helpful in virtually any workplace, or even in people’s private lives.

Popular Examples

There are hundreds of examples of non-manufacturing companies using 5S already. For example, many in the medical industry use these strategies to make dramatic improvements in the level of service they are able to provide. This is a very natural fit given the fact that so many things within the medical industry are already standardized, and keeping things clean (shine) is of obvious importance.

In supermarkets or other retail environments the 5S concepts are also a natural fit. Putting things in their proper place, making sure that certain projects are placed near others that are a complimentary buy, and keeping things clean are all great ways of improving the environment for customers, employees, and the bottom line.

Looking at Things Through a 5S Lens

While the vast majority of documentation available for 5S may be tailored more to the manufacturing and warehousing industries, it shouldn’t be difficult to adapt them to any other environment. The problems and improvement opportunities in manufacturing are not vastly different than those in any other location. Once you start looking at an industry through the lens of 5S, you will quickly see that the solutions aren’t terribly different either.

In an office setting, for example, a problem might be that when someone prints a document they have to waste a lot of time walking across the building to get the results. A 5S solution would be to either have an additional printer nearby, or use electronic copies, to eliminate the wasted movement. An auto mechanic’s shop is not at all unlike a manufacturing facility, and even a gas station will operate in much the same way.

Follow the 5 S’s

In the end, any company (or even any family or individual) can benefit from the 5S methodology. It simply requires one to identify a problem area and walk through the 5 S’s in order to identify the right solution and put it into place. Whether done in a very formalized way (which is ideal) or on an individual level, it will produce great improvements that will benefit everyone involved.


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