Too many times we see short sighted 5S success. As leaders, 5S programs need to be built around a culture of teaching employees to “see” waste and clutter and most importantly, how it impacts the overall operation.


Seems simple enough? Pick a work cell and challenge the workforce to find everything in a cell that simply should not be there. Using tools like 5S red tag above makes it very simple to identify items in the work cell that should not be there. Typically those items are moved to an area for review prior to disposal. In the “sort” phase, the key objective is to remove items that do not add value to the process.


Putting thing in order in the work cell requires more than simple arrangement. To do it right – get out the stop watch, time the process, count the steps, examine the ergonomics, and create an environment with the least amount of non-value added time.


A 5S event is a great time to “clean up” the work cell. Taking the time to wipe down equipment, tables or even the floor provides an opportunity to identify – leaks, damaged equipment, or other opportunities for improvement. Most importantly, this activity sets the new standard expectation for how a work cell should look.


Take the time to build systems in the work cell to ensure that everyone is doing the process the same way. Simple tools like the shadow board example above help to ensure, regardless of who is working – they follow the process the same way.


Develop a regular audit system to ensure program compliance. More importantly, train the workforce to audit their own work environments and coach on expectations. Remember, culture is driven when teams take direct ownership.