At the core of Lean’s continuous improvement is the 5 S Methodology. It encourages standardization, order and cleanliness to create an efficient and profitable organization.
The first S is to Sort. It’s important to start by removing unnecessary clutter. This includes excess material or broken items, as well as anything not currently being used. A Red Tagging system can be used to mark everything to be moved, recycled, or disposed of.
The next step is to Set in Order. This step encourages the efficient use of space and storage to organize your area, and can only be started once Sort is complete. Techniques include painting floors, labeling, and installing bespoke cabinets.
Now everything has been sorted and organized, things need to Shine. The workspace should be cleaned, and importantly, kept clean. This helps identify problems such as malfunctions or leaks before a problem can escalate. Establishing Shine targets and methods before starting this step will also ensure efficiency.
The fourth step, Standardize then implements a system of best practices to maintain the first three steps. Techniques like job cycle charts and check lists encourage these best practices, and also importantly work to prevent a return to clutter and disorder.
Finally, Sustain ensures the other four S’s remain in place long term. This step focuses on keeping up the new standards of working and best practices, and preventing the return to old behaviours or habits. Without this last S, the other four S’s would soon collapse.
A messy and unordered work environment encourages waste in all areas of a business. By implementing the 5 S’s, an unorganized workspace can transform into a place of efficiency and productivity.