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Phase 1 - Seiri of the 5 S methodology: Featured Article

The 5S process is a reference to a list of 5 Japanese words that are the name of a methodology. The 5 S methodology is a philosophy and a way to organize and manage the workspace and work flow in your business to improve efficiency by eliminating waste, improving flow, and reducing process variables.

The 5 S methodology generally works best for organizing a shared workspace, like a shop floor, and provides ways on how to keep it organized. Many people refer to the 5 S methodology as a "housekeeping" methodology, however this is incorrect because it entails much more than organizing a workspace.

The goal of the 5 S methodology is not only a way to improve the organization of your business, but it is also a way to improve workplace morale and efficiency. With the 5 S methodology, you will assign everything to a specific location, so you are not wasting time searching for things. It is also easy to notice when something is missing, because it is not in its specified location. The advocated of the 5 S methodology commonly state the benefits of this method lie in deciding what should be kept, where it is kept, and how it is stored. Typically, the 5S process builds a clear understanding between employees about how the work should be done and instills ownership of the various processes to individual employees.

The 5 S methodology is as follows:

Seiri - Seiri is sorting or organizing. This step entails going through all the tools, materials and other products used in your company and keeping only the essential items. All the other items are tossed out or stored away.

Seiton - Seiton means to straighten or set in order. This step involves a complete focus on efficiency. The intent of this step is to arrange the tools, equipment and parts after a manner that will promote proper work flow. The tools should be placed in an area that promotes work flow and are easy to find.

Helpful Resources:
5 S Book

This is a book about the 5 S methodology. It discusses Seiri and the other 4 principles of the 5 S methodology in detail and provides excellent information on how you can implement each step.

Wikipedia talks about the 5 S methodology and breaks down each letter in the system. It discusses how the 5 S methodology was formed and why it is used to help businesses run more efficiently and effectively.

Improving Your Business

This web site provides a brief look at the 5 S methodology and how it is used in the business processes to help improve the overall production of your business.

First Step
Seiri is the first step in the 5 S methodology and this web site looks at it in great detail, apart from the other steps in the 5 S methodology. You can link to other pages for information on the other key steps.

This web site takes a look at Seiri, one of the key steps in the 5 S methodology. This site discusses the definition of Seiri and provides ways on how you can begin implementing it in your business.

Key Steps in 5S
This online encyclopedia provides a brief description of Seiri, one of the key steps in the 5 S methodology. Seiri focuses on organizing your business processes to improve efficiency in the workplace.

Implementing Seiri
This blogging web site discusses how you can implement Seiri into your business. It provides excellent tips that can help you find ways to implement Seiri to organize your company.

Seiri Focusing
This is another blogging web site that talks about the 5 S methodology. It provides an excellent example of Seiri focusing on a newpaper article talking about useless thoughts and habits.

5S Methodology

This web site talks about quality improvement and management tools that can be used in the workplace. This particular page talks about the 5 S methodology used to improve the workplace.

Applying Seiri
This web site talks about how Seiri can be applied to your computer and to your web site to help you organize outdated files. It is an excellent example of how you can apply Seiri to just about anything.

Seiso - Seiso is the sweeping phase or the systematic cleaning of your workplace to keep it need and tidy. Seiso is a daily activity that should be performed at the end of each shift to ensure everything is cleaned, and restored to its proper place. Seiso makes it easy to know where everything goes and what items are essential to the workplace.

Seiketsu - Seiketsu means standardizing. Having standardized work practices allows your company to operate in a consistent or standardized manner. Everyone in your company will know exactly what their job description is and know how they fit into the 5 S methodology.

Shitsuke - Shitsuke means sustaining. This is the final phase in the 5 S methodology and it refers to the maintaining and reviewing of standards. Once you have properly established the other steps in the 5 S methodology, you will maintain this new way of operating. This step helps you to eliminate the need for a gradual decline back to the old ways of operating.

Now that you know a little about the 5 S methodology, we will discuss the first step, Seiri, in further detail.

Again, Seiri means to sort or to organize. During this phase, you will be putting everything into order by organizing them using a specific set of rules. The rules will be laid out by management and internalized to the entire organization. Once the rules are internalized, you will be able to find your tools or other things in a quick and easy manner.

The act of sorting tools or other things is called "stratification management". Stratification management involves deciding how important something is and then removing it from your non-essential inventory. If you have old items on your shelves that you haven't sold in years, they probably need to be hauled off to the dumpster. The art of stratification management will help you to decide what items need to be tossed. The key to having good stratification management will lie in your ability to make decisions on what needs to stay and what needs to go. Sometimes it is important to keep things you don't use at hand for future reference, but they need to be properly organized and stored.

You need to break things down into 3 categories: low, average, and high. Each item you sort through will fall into one of these categories. Items of low importance include any item you have not used in the past year or anything that you have used only once in the past six to twelve months. If you have items that fall into this category, you need to throw them out or store them away at a distance where they will not be in the way. Items of average importance include things you have used once in the past two to six months or things used more than once in a month. Items of average importance need to be stored in a central area in the workplace. Lastly, items of high importance include things used once a week, things used once daily, and things used hourly. Any items that fall under the high importance category need to be stored near the worksite or next to the individual who uses them.

As you go along evaluating your items, you should use post-it notes to write "low, average or high importance" on each item. This way, if an item gets mixed into another sorted pile, you will know which pile it needs to be in. Depending upon the field you are in, you could have several categories. For example, a pizza store might group pizza toppings by types of food such as "meats, vegetables, cheese." Decide what will help you categorize your business products to be able to find them when you need them.

Seiri is not only about organizing things, it also involved throwing away non-essential items. Far too often we confuse our "wants" with our "needs". It is sometimes hard for individuals to decide what to do with the low importance pile. If you decide to save the items, how much of the item do you need? The common rule of thumb is the less you use an item, the less you will need it in the future. If you continually save old items, you will wind up with a pile of junk in the future when you perform another housecleaning project. Most people will save things "just in case", this is when management needs to step in and make an executive decision and state that those things which aren't being used need to be tossed.

If you have employees who have piles in the corner of their offices, on their desk, or in their cubicle, they need to be sorted and tossed and the remaining items need to be placed in an area where they won't get in the way. Sorting will also include looking at broken or worn items that need to be replaced as well as defective goods that could be mistakenly mixed with products in operation.

There is always a chance of selling a damaged product to a customer when things become unorganized. As you and your staff members are organizing their specific areas, you all need to ask "how did it get this way?" If you can find the root cause of the problem, it is easier to find a solution and prevent the problem from reoccurring in the future.

Part of Seiri also includes the cleaning of dirt and grime and tightening of loose pipes. A water leak may have gone un-noticed for a long time and is causing a problem in another area. Where dirt and grime accumulate, it can pile up and block machines from functioning properly. Make sure your workplace is cleaned and properly sealed from leaks.

One important aspect involved with Seiri is the personal responsibility each member must assume. Each employee must be personally responsible for tidying up their specific area. A manager should not have to be a babysitter to tell their employees to pick up litter. Guidelines should be established that state how things are organized. Once a habit is formed, it is not difficult to follow. Have an annual cleaning of your workplace to ensure things aren't accumulating.

A last place where Seiri can be implemented is your computer systems. Outdated computer files can quickly eat up extra memory on your computer and you can easily lose valuable information. Each computer in your office needs to be organized to avoid losing important files. You should also have a policy that discusses how to deleted temporary internet files and cookies. Though they are small files, they can build up over time and take up valuable space on your computer.

It isn't have to implement Seiri, just keep in mind that people must do it on a continual basis to avoid falling back into old habits that lead to clutter and outdated materials that collect dust. By having policies on organization methods, employees will be able to break their bad habits and know it is expected to have a clean, organized workspace.

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