5S Workplace Organization

Ümit Hız

5S Workplace organization is briefly referred to as 5S because it is expressed with five words that start with the Japanese letter "S". 5S is a method used to create a quality, efficient and safe workplace. Our 5S approach is one of the key tools and behavior patterns of TPS. I am aware that this part is quite bookish information. So, let's continue to explain a little more by establishing a connection with reality. Irregularity; It is one of the main factors that trigger inefficiency. Irregularity also brings with it identification problems. It creates problems of not being able to find it when we search in anonymity. Pollution is another problem on the table as a factor that negatively affects quality, no matter what we produce. Pollution, irregularity and undefinedness, along with many other factors, negatively affect the processes, whether in the workplace or in social life, and are reflected in business results as negativities. 

5S; “Can we have an efficient work process in an irregular area, can a high-quality meal be made in a dirty kitchen, can we find the products we are looking for quickly in an undefined warehouse, can we guarantee people and their health in terms of ergonomics in an irregular area, can we work in an area where risks are present? Is it possible to ensure security?” Even if it does not eliminate such questions, it has a very important place in terms of preparing the ground for studies that will remove them. Some opposing comments may come to mind here. Personally, we come across this quite often. "I can find everything I'm looking for", "I don't think there is a problem," "Duty to the nature of this job, pollution and disorder are normal." etc. We encounter comments. So back to the beginning of the topic, what is 5S? Let's answer your question in more detail.

1.Q: Seiri (Extraction)

2.Q: Seiton (Edit)

3.Q: Seiso (Cleaning)

4.Q: Seiketsu (Standardization)

5.Q: Shitsuke (Sustainability)

It is a 5S workplace organization method consisting of steps, and it is extremely important to turn it into a culture in order to get high benefits from this method. 

5S; It may be more accurate to say that it can be applied or even applied in all areas such as factories, logistics warehouses, workshops, laboratories, production areas, offices, archive rooms, chemical stock areas and so on. Because individual actions and behavior patterns in business life cannot guarantee our business processes. Workplaces are places of collective action. There are common goals and processes that must be pursued in a designed way to achieve these common goals. To give a simple example to understand the importance of 5S, if the location of the forklift is not defined in a shift facility, the employee in the next shift will have to search for the forklift and an inefficiency will arise. A thought such as “They will find the forklift” may arise. Of course, everything can be found in that time if given enough time. However, since there are many things that we will have to search and find in an organization that needs collective action, there will be situations that we define as waste (muda) instead of doing our value-added works by spending time on actions such as searching and finding each and every one of them. It is necessary to include different examples here; The subject headings of e-mails that are not related to the subject, the standardlessness in the common file names placed in common digital fields, and dozens of undefined objects in the field only make things more difficult. 5S is a pretty easy and simple approach at its core. However, when you enter the details of the application, we can see its effects on extremely detailed and very different areas.

5S; It is a prerequisite for creating safer working environments, providing more ergonomic working environments, creating more efficient work processes, and producing higher quality products and services. In environments where stabilization cannot be achieved, unexpected problems and problems are possible. These problems are; time losses, occupational safety risks, ergonomics problems, inefficiencies caused by irregularity, unhappy employees, quality problems caused by pollution, cost increases due to waste, excess stocks and unnecessary products, low productivity, stressful workplace, etc. can be listed as The main purpose of 5S is to prevent these problems from occurring.

The steps of 5S and their purposes are as follows;

Extraction Step: It is the step where necessary and unnecessary objects are separated from each other and unnecessary ones are removed from the area. The red card strategy is generally used for weeding operations. The red card is an identification card used to identify unnecessary objects. On this card, the date that did the extraction, the area where the object was detected, the reason for extraction, etc. information is available. Extracted objects are removed to a designated area, where extraction decisions are made. Some extracted objects can be used for other fields. In this regard, it is important for the relevant department responsibles to participate in the sorting decision process, which is one of the first steps of 5S. In addition, some objects can be tax-active fixtures. In this case, in order to avoid tax problems, it is necessary to act within the knowledge of the accounting departments from the process of removing such objects from the field.

Editing Step: In the editing step, the main goal is to eliminate all the uncertainties in the field. Everything must have a place, it must be defined in that place.

- Specified areas are created > The most suitable, easy and fast settlement is targeted.

- Specified addresses are created > It is aimed to find and reach easily without wasting time.

- Determined quantities are designed > In case of need, it is aimed to avoid missing material situation or excess stock.

- Defined by specified colors > It is aimed to provide easy understandability.

- Established routes are created > It is aimed to establish in-house traffic safety and to provide fast evacuation when necessary.

Cleaning Step: The cleaning step is not just a cleaning step, as it is thought. The main purpose is to eliminate the need for cleaning. The ways to be followed for this purpose;

- Our main goal is to identify and eliminate sources of pollution.

- To control what we cannot destroy and to prevent its spread.

- It is to make it easy to clean what we cannot control.

In the cleaning step, the error card method is used to detect pollution sources and hard-to-reach areas. Elimination of some of the identified sources of pollution can only be possible with a detailed analysis and kaizen study.

Standardization Step: It is the step where the achievements in the first 3 5S steps can be permanent and the standards developed for the activity are documented. This documentation is created visually and in detail. The main purpose is to make the standards visible so that different applications do not occur in other locations throughout the enterprise or for group companies. Simultaneously, in-house 5S patrols are initiated to keep the activity alive. In 5S patrols, it is tried to detect 5S nonconformities in the field with the participants determined on different routes. Detected nonconformities are reported visually. With this report, actions are taken to eliminate all nonconformities by taking action.

Sustainability Step: A series of studies are carried out to make the 5S activities the behavior of the organization. Some of these studies are awareness-raising studies. The other part is the studies aimed at improving the activity systematic. If we list some of these activities;

- 5S Controls,

- 5S Awareness trainings,

- 5S Campaigns,

- 5S Integration of audit results into the performance management system,

*Rewarding successful regions, etc.

Unfortunately, many organizations fail to turn their 5S activities into a culture. Although there are many reasons for this, it is very important to focus only on the cosmetic part of the method and miss the very important points in other dimensions. While putting effort into 5S activities, it is important not to neglect to ask the following questions.

- How many occupational safety risks have we eliminated?

- How many ergonomics problems did we solve and make things easier?

- How much did we contribute to stock management?

- How much space did we save by removing unnecessary objects from the area?

- How much have we been able to reduce unnecessary movements and calls? How could we get the most out of it?

- By solving how many sources of pollution and hard-to-reach areas have we been able to eliminate the need for cleaning?

- Have we made the right effort as managers to turn it into a culture? Did we set an example? Have we properly introduced 5S as a way to do our core business better?


Umit Hiz, TPS Consultant