Where do I start with 5S?

When it comes to 5S, there is no shortage of information available online, in books, and just about anywhere else you look. While this information can be extremely helpful, it can also be quite overwhelming. For many people, it is hard to figure out exactly where to start. If you’re looking to get started with 5S as quickly and easily as possible, the following simple steps will get you headed down this important path.

Get Support

As with any changes in a facility, the first thing you’re going to need to do is get the support of others in the company. Getting approval from upper management is necessary since this will result in significant changes. From there, getting the support you need from other levels of leadership, and even the front line employees, can be very helpful. Providing them with an explanation of what 5S is, and how it can benefit everyone involved (not to mention the bottom line) often makes this an easy sell.

Find an Easy Win

Once you have buy in, you need to find a project to start with. While it can be tempting to identify one of the biggest problems around, that can be a recipe for failure. Instead, find something that everyone recognizes as an issue, but that would be relatively easy to fix using the 5S methodologies. This will help you to achieve a quick ‘win’ that will show everyone the benefits of 5S. It will also help you to get the experience you need to tackle more complicated issues going forward.

Follow the S’s in Order

When working on a problem, no matter how big or small, you simply need to work the 5 S’s in order. This will help you to plan out how to fix things, how to keep them fixed, and much more. If the problem is in one particular area of the facility, for example, start by sorting everything, then set it in order, get it all cleaned (shined), and then find a standard process to improve the way it is done. Finally, make sure there are procedures in place to ensure everything will remain sorted, set in order, shined, and standardized.

Don’t Forget to Celebrate Your Accomplishments

Finally, once you have effectively made improvements in your facility, make sure that you celebrate that fact. Whether that means something small like sending out a company memo illustrating what was done, or something larger like bringing in pizza for the team to tell them good job, this will draw positive attention to the 5S concepts and keep them moving forward into the next area of improvement.


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