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Phase 2 - Seiton of the 5 S methodology: Featured Article

The 5 S methodology is a structured program that allows your company to achieve total organization, cleanliness, and standardization in the workplace. Having a well-organized workplace will help your company have safer, more efficient, and more productive operations. When employees have an organized workspace and are able to find things in a quick, effective manner, they are able to achieve their responsibilities quicker and will be happier by installing a sense of pride in their work.

The 5 S methodology was invented in Japan and stands for 5 Japanese words that start with the letter `S': Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke. When the words are translated to English, they mean: Sort, Straighten, Sweep, Standardize and Sustain.

The 5 S methodology is broken down as follows:

Seiri - Seiri is the sorting or organizing phase of the program. During this step you will create piles and sort through all the tools, materials and other products used in your company and keep only the essential items. All the other items will be discarded out or stored away in an accessible location that is out of the way from daily activities.

Seiton - Seiton means to straighten or set in order. Seiton is focused on creating efficiency in the workplace by arranging 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 for specific job responsibilities.

Seiso - Seiso is the sweeping phase or the systematic cleaning of your workplace to keep it need and tidy. Seiso is the only phase that is considered a daily activity. Seiso 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.

Helpful Resources:
1. The five Ss: Number 2: Seiton
This article gives you a very detailed description of what seiton is and how it is applied in the workplace, it also gives you examples of things you can do to enact this theory in your workplace.

2. Five S Program
This article tells you about the tools that you should use when implementing this part of the program, but it also tells you what this step is and what its objectives are.

3. 5S Seiton
This article provides you with a description of what seiton is and how it can be used in a business, but in addition to that the website also provides you with examples of how it can be used.

4. Father Sez seiton
This article provides you with information about the second phase of the 5S and how it can be applied to our everyday lives, as well as in a business. The website also provides you with links to other useful articles.

5. 5S Seiton - Separating
This article gives you information on what this second step is and how it works in business, but it also provides you with tips and ideas on what you can do to use it in your workplace.

6. 5S today, GOT LEAN don't get left behind
This website gives you the chance to get more information on 5S, but it also gives you a very brief overview of what 5S is and what each phase of it is.

7. 5S Principles in Manufacturing Management
This article gives you a brief overview of what 5S is and how it can be used in manufacturing, but it also provides you with other links that you might find useful when looking for more information.

8. Simplified Lean Manufacturing - The Foundation
This document gives you an overview of what the 5S system is, but it also goes into detail about each phase of the 5S program and what that is and how it works in business.

9. What is 5S?
This article talks about what 5S is and how it has been westernized to meet other economies needs, but the article still describes the Japanese form of the words and what they mean as well as the English translations.

10. Applying the 5S Philosophy in Your Workplace
This article in addition to giving you a description of what the 5S method is and what each phase stands for it also gives you some steps that you will need to follow in order to ensure that you have managed to apply this in your workplace.

Seiketsu - Seiketsu means standardizing. Having a standardized work practice in place will allow 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. Shitsuke 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 will help you to eliminate the need for a gradual decline back to the old ways of operating.

Seiri is used to help your company get organized and be able to find everything you need when you need it. After you have completed Seiri, you will move on to Seiton. Again, Seiton means to straighten or set in order. What this is referring to is `neatness'. With Seiri, you got rid of the excess waste that was sitting around collecting dust and Seiton takes this once step further by ensuring that the things you leave are neat and tidy and available when you need them.

With Seiton, you will put away things in a clean manner after you have used them.

When you put things away, you will follow 3 simple rules:


  • Decide how to put things away

  • - Follow the procedures to properly put away things

  • - Leave things where they can be quickly and properly found the next time they are needed

You will begin Seiton by establishing the put-away rules. Start by analyzing the way your employees put away things and how they retrieve them. If a particular tool is used numerous times during the day, there will be multiple times when an employee wastes time trying to find it if you do not have a proper storage area for it.

Typical problems in finding items include the following:


  • Not knowing what the item is called

  • - Not sure of where items are kept

  • - The storage area for a particular item is too far away from the work area

  • - Storage areas for items are not in one central location, causing an employee to wander around the business to find needed tools

  • - Hard to find the item because there are so many items stored there

  • - Item is not labeled

  • - Item is missing and employee is not sure if someone is using it or if it is missing

  • - Unaware if spare parts exist or there is a "back up item"

  • - Item is broken and has not been replaced

  • - Hard to retrieve the item

  • - Item is too big to carry

  • - Item needs to be assembled before use

  • - Cannot find the means necessary to transport the item

If confusion exists regarding the item, you need to take proper measures to fix it. A lot of time can be wasted if items cannot be identified or found. By implementing a standardized method using colors, numbers, labels, or pictures, you will save yourself wasted money on employees who spend a lot of time searching for an item.

When you are setting up a labeling system, you need to come up with names that are commonly used for the item. For example, you need to create a label for hex spinner, but it is also referred to as a nut spinner, you will then evaluate what your employees commonly call it and use that name. Write the labels or other signs you are using clearly so it can be read at a distance. If you use paint instead of sticky labels, you are taking an extra step to eliminate confusion since sticky labels commonly fall off over time. If you are making a sign, then you can paint it on the wall or make a sign to be nailed onto the wall. The one exception to this is if the tools change on a weekly basis. If your tools are constantly changing then perhaps clips or a slotted holder would be easier to use.

The location for the item must match the work area. For example, it wouldn't do a pizza company much good to have the pizza cutter in the dough preparation area when the oven where the pizza comes out is in another room. Some companies have created boards with outlines of the item and the storage area. A tool board is a good example of this. You can create a board and paint the outline of a hammer, screwdriver, and other tools on it. Employees can properly identify the tool with the outline and it makes it easy to tell when a particular tool is missing from its location.

You can also have marks and signs on the floors and wall to indicate storage areas, walkways and other things. You can paint an area on the floor where it is hazardous or paint areas that can be used to indicate rest areas, fork lift pathways, etc. The storage areas should be safe and easy to reach for your employees. You need to prevent your staff members from hurting themselves by making them aware of heavy items, sharp corners, sharp objects, etc. Never store heavy items on a top shelf, as employees could easily injure themselves.

The put-away rules should always have some instructions about proper cleaning procedures. The items that are used should always be properly cleaned before they are put away in their designated area. If an item was damaged during use, it should never be put back; instead it needs to be reported as damaged and sent to a designated area. Another label needs to go where the item would typically go stating that the item is damaged so other staff members don't waste time searching for it.

Unused storage area is considered a waste, so be sure you spread out the storage area and try to avoid cluttering one area with too many items. If some items are more important than others it may be a wise investment to have a back-up and a back-up storage area. If you have more than one employee that uses the same tool, do an assessment to determine if it is worth purchasing two tools. Be creative about your storage areas, implement lights or use computerized storage programs that allow the item to come directly to you with the touch of a button.

Seiton is closely connected to Seiri, as being organized and being clean and tidy go hand in hand. This is how the complete 5 S Methodology works, each part directly and closely relates to the other steps to help you create a smooth-slowing, organized work area. Each part of the 5 S Methodology is used to reinforce each other rather than compete with one another. The complete 5 S Methodology doesn't take much time to implement and with a little effort on your part, you will see immediate changes that not only look nice, but help to improve the overall process of your business. The end result will make you and your employees appreciate your job and take care of your work areas.

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