The 5S system is a proven way to improve just about any work environment. It helps to identify inefficiencies and provides an outline on how to eliminate them so that tasks can be completed more quickly, and with fewer errors. The concepts behind 5S are really quite simple, and have been proven effective almost throughout human history (though without any formal name for most of that time). In fact, the 5S methodologies are so simple that many people just call it 5S Housekeeping.
This is because 5S doesn’t really introduce any revolutionary new concepts to workplace management. Instead, it puts a formal process around a lot of common sense ideas that can improve almost any facility. Unlike many other process improvement systems, 5S (when used correctly) will help to maintain the improvements over time. This is done by engaging in ‘housekeeping’ efforts to avoid slipping back into bad habits.
One of the reasons that people call 5S housekeeping is because it needs to be done on a regular basis. In fact, the 5th S (Sustain) is all about going back and making sure that strides that were made in the previous S’s are maintained long into the future.
Without proper housekeeping, a home will start to become dirty and fall into disrepair. Similarly, a facility that doesn’t engage in some form of the 5S concepts will find that any progress that was made will be lost over time. Employees in any industry tend to start taking shortcuts, and over time, efficiencies will be lost and waste will be reintroduced to an area.
A company that really engages in the concepts behind 5S housekeeping, however, will be able to not only maintain any existing improvements that are made, but also continue to make further improvements. This is why 5S is such a good compliment to just about any other workplace improvement program as well as an effective standalone program.