How the 5S system can help your business – What Exactly is 5S?

May 2020

Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardise and Sustain

These words might not mean a lot to you now, but they are the key to unlocking a more effective, more efficient, and less risky workplace.

They make up the 5S methodology of workplace organisation – a lean management system that was developed in Japan and has taken the food industry by storm.

Sort: Sorting what your business needs from what it doesn’t need – what is valuable from what is a waste – is the first step to improving efficiency and lean management. For example, there may be inefficiencies in your production line that do not need to be there. By thoroughly analysing where you work, and sorting the good from the bad, you can eliminate obstacles, remove parts of the process or machines that are not necessary, and dispose of anything that is getting in the way of your end goal.

Set in Order: Once you have sorted, it is time to set in order. This step is all about making your work process as logical and fluid as possible. Think about how your current workstations are positioned. Do your workers have to walk around a lot to get to the places they need to be? Do they have to actively look to find the tools that they need? Setting in order will help your business by putting everything your staff need in close proximity to them – so they don’t have to waste time and won’t get frustrated because things are not in the right place or are too far away from them.

Shine: This is an easy one – simply keeping your factory floor or food production space clean and tidy, will help your business no end. We suggest regular cleaning and tidying, as well as using black bag audits and making inspections to ensure that everywhere is kept ship shape. This will ensure that people can work free from mess and potential risks (which is important for productivity but also for morale), and machinery is properly cared for to extend work life – saving you money.

Standardise: None of the above will work if your staff are in the dark. You need to make sure that you communicate the 5S system to them and make them excited about it so that they all play their part willingly. Management must be able to put in place simple to follow procedures and a work structure that supports the 5S system – and then demonstrate the benefits of this to their staff. If you do this properly, then not only will your business benefit, your staff will too.

Sustain: This is probably the most important step. If 5S is going to work, then you need to keep it up until it becomes second nature to your business as a whole. You must sustain the sorting, setting in order, and shining steps by standardising them, and by showing self-discipline.


How Can 5S Help Your Business?

As we have now seen, each step in the 5S system can help a business to flourish, by improving the efficiency of systems and processes in any department.

Some of the key benefits of 5S are:

Happier staff – they can see that you are trying to make things easier for them and are likely to appreciate this effort (as long as you communicate the benefits of the system to them before implementation).

More productivity – if your staff are happier, they’ll be more productive. Also, by making their working systems more logical, they’ll be able to get more done in less time.

Tidier and safer workspace – both sorting and shining will make your workspace tidier, which should help to eliminate health and safety risks.

Better quality and lower prices – increases in efficiency and effectiveness means that your products could very well become a higher quality (at the least, quality will become more consistent). This is great for consumers. What’s even better is that as your productivity increases, you may be able to reduce costs and pass these savings on to your loyal consumers!


Start Achieving 5S with Hygiene Technologies

It’s very easy for us to lay out the steps for 5S and tell you how it could benefit your business. It’s another thing entirely when it comes to implementing it. We know that it’s not easy to introduce new models into a pre-existing business, but it’s worth it when you think about the benefits that 5S can bring to your team and customers!

There are several ways in which we can help your business to easily implement the 5S system. Firstly, the most important element of setting in order is logical positioning of work tools. Our Shadow Boards are the epitome of this. Shadow Boards are colour coded, to help you to improve segregation and allergen control. They are created with work place standardisation in mind and ensure that the right equipment is always available, and always in the most logical place. We have Shadow Boards for just about everything, and we now stock magnetic Shadow Boards to make things even easier for you.

In order to fulfil the third step – shine – you’ll be needing a wide variety of cleaning products. We are the experts in colour coded cleaning equipment for the food industry – stocking all manner of brushes, brooms, squeegees, and much more.

Finally, our visual management tools are ideal for helping staff to accept your standardised 5S system. Most of us are visual learners, and although you might call a staff meeting to explain the new 5S system to your staff – they will probably need a little more help remembering it as the days go by. We can create visual management tools at our in-house print facilities that are tailored to your new system’s requirements. These can vary from posters showing staff exactly how to wear new uniforms or where to put things, to pictorial flow charts that help them make decisions on the production line. By providing staff with visual ques, your system can be more easily standardised and sustained.

For more information about 5S lean management, or about any of our products, please don’t hesitate to contact us.