What is the purpose of 5S?

There are three main objectives of 5S.

The first is "safety".

It is important to create a safe workplace that is free from industrial accidents. Most workplace injuries are caused by tripping. Also, as much as 80% of accidents are caused by slackness. Even if the workplace is clean, if it is not safe, it cannot be called a proper 5S activity. Workplace conditions and environments vary from company to company, so it is important for all employees of the company to share their opinions and make the workplace safe.

The second objective is to "improve efficiency".

In order to increase work productivity and efficiency, it is important that the workplace is free of unnecessary items and that things are sorted out neat and tidy. It is estimated that people in Japan spend 150 hours a year looking for things. That's a lot of time lost to the unproductive activity of finding things. By reducing this wasted time, working overtime is reduced and productivity increases. Let's create a more efficient workplace by discussing things like, "Wouldn't it be more efficient to put this tool here?", etc. 

The third objective is "comfortability at work". 

This doesn't mean creating a workplace that is comfortable for the boss or management, but one that is comfortable for everyone to work in. This is also about making the workplace a comfortable place to work, with each employee who works there coming up with ideas. Regular communication among employees also revitalizes the company. It brings the team together and makes it easier for the organization to produce high performance at work.


Let's take a look at the 5S's each item specifically. The origin of the 5S's itself is not known, but it became famous when Toyota Motor introduced them and have been practicing the. They are called 5S because of the five S's, which are the initial letters of the Roman alphabet for Japanese words: Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke, respectively.


It means dividing things in the workplace into three categories: "what you need," "what you don't need now," and "what you don't need," and then thoroughly discarding the last category items that "you don't need." When you hear the word "seiri," some people interpret it as meaning to clean and arrange things, but remember that it is an activity to thoroughly dispose of what is not needed. By doing so, you will eliminate unnecessary items in your company, thereby increasing the amount of available space. As a result, you will be able to work more efficiently and have a better place to work.


To make necessary items readily available to anyone at any time. The point is "anytime" and "anyone can get it immediately". It's natural to be able to get the things you need at your own desk right away. Instead, seiton means creating a situation where someone else can take it out immediately when you are absent. This is why we all need to come up with the best ideas to make sure we are all working together.


This means maintaining the same cleanliness no matter who does it. This is the key point, no matter who does it. Different people have different standards of cleanliness. For example, when person A cleans it, it's shiny, but when person B cleans it, it's not so clean. The same is true for products. If the quality changes depending on the person who makes the product, the company is in trouble. Just as there are certain standards for quality, it's important to set certain standards for cleaning as well. The purpose of this activity is to make sure that everyone keeps the same cleanliness, no matter who does it.


The three Ss (3Ss) of Seiri, Seiton, and Seiso are standardized and maintained, and by doing the 3Ss thoroughly, we can create a naturally clean workplace. It is Seiketsu. Even if you are not conscious of Seiketsu, doing these 3Ss thoroughly will result in a clean workplace, which is seiketsu.


Shitsuke is a habit and a natural state of being seiketsu. When people hear the word "shitsuke," some people think of training their pets or making their subordinates follow the rules. Rather, this activity is basically a voluntary, basic activity, so by enforcing the 3Ss, employees are unconsciously engaging in the 5S activity in the end.

Many companies have the problem of how to discipline number 5, Shitsuke. Many workers leave tools out when they take them out and don't care if the workbench is disorganized. So companies are wondering how to make those employees aware of "Shitsuke". Putting it back after use is actually the most difficult task. When we are busy with daily deadlines, we often leave it out for a moment's efficiency and do a different task. Many employees don't want to waste time cleaning up. This may be very strange from the perspective of employees who are good at cleaning up after work. There are a lot of things in the workplace and their position is not fixed, so even if you put them back in, they are still in a state of disarray. That's why it's important to always do these 5S activities in the order of (1) to (5). It is impossible to go to step 5 immediately. And the key is communication among employees. The workplace is for everyone at the company, they need to decide how to utilize 5S to make their workplace better place to work.