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How the 5s Manufacturing System Can Help Your Business Thrive

Posted by Jaymin Jeffery on December 09, 2014 | Updated on February 6, 2019

5s manufacturing has nothing to do with latest smart phone release and 5s lean manufacturing doesn’t mean your phone is getting skinnier. In today's technology savvy environment, it’s no surprise that this would come to mind. While this may be true, 5S manufacturing is one of the most important and often overlooked areas of business.

The Basis of 5s Manufacturing

Think of the last time that you went to the grocery store and purchased a gallon of milk. As you go to your usual grocery store, you already know what aisle, refrigerator, and shelf the milk is located. You bring the gallon of milk home and place it in the usual spot in the refrigerator door. You know the spot, the one that is extra wide and designed to only accommodate the width and height of the gallon container! Now ask yourself the following question: Why do i put the milk in the same spot every time?

The answer to this question is the basis of 5S. 5S is short for the 5 pillars of lean thinking. The 5 pillars, Seiri (Sort), Seitori (Set in Order / Straighten), Seiso (Shine), Seiketsu (Standardize), and Shitsuke (Sustain), provide a structure and method for organizing, cleaning, developing, and sustaining a highly productive work environment. Imagine the following scenario: You're at home and you're getting thirsty for a tall, cold glass of milk. You go to the refrigerator and it is not in the same spot you thought you left it. Now imagine that this scenario happens each and every time you go to the refrigerator. How frustrated or angry might you feel? How much time are you wasting looking for the milk? Would you give up and just buy a second gallon of milk to replace the misplaced gallon?

This problems identified in this scenario describes exactly what 5S lean manufacturing solves. When things are sorted, straightened, shined, standardized, and sustained the feelings of frustration and anger, wasted time, and excessive inventory are eliminated. Additional benefits of using a 5S system include: improved safety, lower defect rates, reduced costs, increased efficiency and utilization, improved employee morale, and an enhanced image as it is presented to customers, suppliers, employees, and shareholders.

What 5s Manufacturing Stands For

Sort (Seiri)

The first of the five steps is to sort your work space. Items are separated into two main categories; necessary and unnecessary items. A 5s program will typically implement a red tag system to determine which items are of use and which are not. It’s a great visual management technique you can use to get your workplace clean. Upon completion, red tagged items are discarded as these unnecessary items crowd work areas.  They also make it difficult to locate or manage materials that are required. You can even use floor marking to help sort. Once the sort is complete, only items that are required for the process or processes remain.

Straighten (Seitori)

Straighten is the process of taking the required items that are remaining after the removal of clutter (sort) and arranging them in an efficient manner. 5s lean manufacturing ensures that every item has a place and that everything is in its place. It creates a much more visual workplace. In the straightening process, consider the ergonomics of the environment and the frequency of use. Every item should be placed in such a way that it improves the efficiency of the working environment. One example might be using a shadow board for tools and supplies

Shine (Seiso)

Shine involves cleaning the entire area, tools, machines, and other equipment to ensure that everything is returned to a condition that is as close to new as possible. Cleaning everything ensures that as a non-conformity occurs, it is easy to identify. In using the gallon of milk example as referenced above, if the refrigerator is clean, it's easy to identify if there is a slow leak at the bottom of the container when milk residue is left on the clean glass shelf.

Standardize (Seiketsu)

Standardizing the way we work is one of the most important principles of lean manufacturing. upon completion of sort, straighten, and shine, the first 3 steps of 5S, standardizing allows us to ensure that all employees have common standards and methods of working. It is critical that everyone knows the standard ways of working so the first of the three 5S pillars are in place.

Sustain (Shitsuke)

The last pillar of 5S is sustaining the previous stages of 5S lean manufacturing that have been put into place. Sustainment is continual improvement of the previous stages, maintaining good housekeeping methods, and conducting regularly scheduled 5S audits to assure sustainment. As defined by ASQ, "Make 5S a way of life".

iCONN System's 5S Implementation:

As of 2014, iCONN Systems, LLC has begun to implement 5S methodologies. Our first 5S project was with our packaging area. Boxes were scattered throughout the work space with tape guns often being misplaced, boxes being ordered in excess of what was actually required, and even running out of packaging supplies. As you can see from the before and after photos, we've sorted the area to eliminate waste, straightened the shelves and identified the boxes by size and location, cleaned the work space to assure all the available tools and materials are present and in their rightful location, and standardized the system with colors and labels. We are now in the process of 5s training to help further facilitate the knowledge of our employees so we can work together as a team to sustain what has been accomplished.



Currently, we are implementing the 5S methodologies to all of our custom fixtures that have been created to poke-a-yoke our customers products to ensure high quality products. Applying the 5S methodologies to the fixture area of our business will significantly improve our ability to service our customers through improved efficiencies and utilization. Throughout 2015, we will be implementing additional 5S projects in efforts to continuously improve in order for iCONN Systems, LLC to operate as a lean, clean, manufacturing machine. Stay tuned for future updates and photos!!!

iCONN Systems, LLC's Quality Department is continually working to improve efficiency and organization throughout all of our processes. We recently had No Action Required for our ISO Audit. Take a look at what our Quality Department has to offer! Do you have additional questions? Please contact us today!

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