The 5S System

A workplace that is clean, organized, efficient, and safe, functions at utmost efficiency. This is an integral part of the lean methodology, and the philosophy behind 5S. Based on five simple concepts—Sort, Set-in-Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain—the goal of 5S is to improve work quality, efficiency, and safety by reducing waste and non-value-added activities. Typically, companies using this system have been able to increase capacity by 15% to 25% without further capital investment.

The 5S concepts eliminate excess inventory, non-essential items, and unused equipment that restrict the process flow, making it easier to find needed tools and parts.


The advantages of using the 5S philosophy include the following:

  • Clean, visually appealing work areas improve employee morale.
  • Organized work areas reduce the risk of accidents.
  • Improved organization results in better inventory management.
  • Common goals improve self-discipline among employees and managers.


Using the 5S philosophy includes the following:

  • In order for the 5S concepts to succeed, all staff must be willing to cooperate, from top executives to line employees.
  • Sustaining the initial improvements requires a tremendous amount of self-discipline among employees.
  • The initial cleaning and organizing requires that time and effort be spent away from production processes.
  • Initially, the training, man-hours, and equipment purchases that are required will incur additional costs.

A manufacturer of generators applied 5S to the vacuum pressure impregnation and oven area, reducing required storage space by one third. Seventeen additional improvement projects were also identified. New employees were trained in the organization methods.

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