5 S After

5 Secrets to Implementing 5S

Originally posted on February 8, 2019
by Matt Hoyng

Have you ever thought about implementing 5S? 

It’s no secret that a clean, organized facility is a more productive facility.  It’s the getting there part that can be the biggest challenge. But, when all of the hard work is finally done and you see the results, like improved safety, better quality and increased production, you know the journey has all been worth it.  Here’s what I learned while managing an extrusion and injection plant.


5 tips to make implementing 5S easier and more effective:

  1. Start Small

Choose one single area that is a pain point in your plant. Begin by blocking off the area with a barrier such as caution tape or cones.  This marking is to function as a reminder to keep you focused on this area, preventing you from “boiling the ocean.”  The goal is to get a quick win and plant a proverbial flag in the ground stating “this area can never go back to the previous state of disarray.”

  1. Involve the Right People

Select 2 – 4 people that work in the area you’ve selected, who will be affected by the changes, or, even another employee who would benefit from a better understanding of production.  Implementing 5S often has a side benefit of breaking down department silos that exist within most plants.

  1. Follow the 5S Process

Before you begin, be sure to complete a scored self-assessment and take lots of pictures from all angles around the selected area. Having proof of the before state can go a long way in showing off your work after completion. The 5S process is Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain.


Once you have completed the assessment and pictures, you will want to start sorting the area.  Identify the tools that you need on a daily basis and keep them close.  The rest of the items will either be moved to a red tag area or will go in the trash.  The red tag area is an area to put items that do not belong in the current work area.  Use a red tag to label to mark these items with the date, location found, and the item name. Set a cutoff date for when all of the red tag items need to be relocated.  Area managers will need to review the red tag area and decide if they can use these treasures or if they are trash.  

Set in Order

Set in order is the process of determining a place for everything and putting everything in its place.   Shadow boards and kaizen foam are great tools to use.


After you have placed everything where it should live you can deep clean the area to a shine


In Standardize you will begin to identify how you can replicate this process in other areas of the plant.  Think about it in this way– if someone moves to another workstation and the area is set up like their old workstation, it allows an easier transition. 


The last step is sustain, which happens to be the most challenging step.  In order to ensure your changes are maintained, you will need to audit the area on a regular basis and continue to track the audit scoring.  If a score drops, find out why and work to get the area back up to the standard. 

  1. Visually Manage the Area

Visual management allows you to quickly see how the work that put into the project is being sustained.  It should only take 30 seconds to see if everything is in its place and easily see what is missing. 

  1. Repeat

When your staff sees the transformation of the area you chose, they will all want to join in.  A 5S project can boost your culture and improve the morale in a very short amount of time.