5S deployment

Last update: April 16th, 2010
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Implementing 5S can be done in two ways:

  1. "Quick hit" or Kaizen Blitz; a high density approach deploying the whole 5S principles in a very short period of time, generally 3 to 5 days. It's a kind of tidal wave starting with a cleaning-sorting-disposing initial phase.

  2. The "5S workshop", over a longer period of time and addresses the several principles in a more gradual, incremental way.

Both ways have advantages and inconvenient. The choice depends on management targets and company's culture.
In any case, regardless to the way it is conducted, the 5S implementation must be managed like a project.

Managing a project means define objective, gates and milestones and the scheduling. A project leader is to take responsibility and a workgroup called together.

The workgroup, via the project or team leader has to report regularly the progress. Top management must be demanding for information and the timekeeping.

If the 5S project is to be recognizes as important for the company, it must be driven like any other company project, with same management involvement and availability of resources.

Main milestones of 5S project

This scheme is just an example. Each project leader, each company has to adapt the planning to its objectives and context.


    Before kick-off, communicate about project's targets and objectives, setup the project structure and choose carrefully the pilot site where to start.
    Make sure the necessary resources and means are available for the start.


    Starting 5S is a good opportunity to perform on-the-job training with tutoring.

    This way holds several advantages:

    • Give a meaning to the project so it makes sense.
      Trainer has to explain goals and expectations, Why to choose this method and how it works.

    • Favor buy-in.
      One involves even better in a project if he understands the reasons, targets and when the advantages and benefits have been demonstrated.

    • Get funds from training fund (in France).


    As a first action, a thorough white tornado should sort out and dispose all unnecessary, obsolete, out of order and worn out items stored on shelves, workbenches, desks and in closets. Clean and arrange properly remaining items once.

    Define rules

    The next step is to define a set of (new) rules sustaining these first progress. These rules must assign storage place for tools, parts and documents according to their frequency of usage. By the way, the first results should be improved; like getting rid of items whose usage frequency and value was unclear (use statistical methods, like tally tags), improve cleaning techniques to ease it.

      Focus on letting the dirt and mess show, so people will eliminate it.
      Every failure in 5S discipline must be visible, but furthermore be disturbing for the new harmony.

    Set standards

    The new "housekeeping" or industrial hygiene rules must be a subset of other work rules and procedures.

    Define means and ways to check the respect to these 5S rules, as well as the frequency of the checking.
    Generally internal audits or self-assesments are performed by patrols. Patrols members should be a mix of workers, foremen, managers, office emplouees.
    These audits or assesment require standard forms and a guidebook. Results must be displayed quickly and publicly. they must be reported in a clear and simple manner by the biggest number, so to advertise about the efforts and the achievements.


    Last but surely not least is to make the system and results improve.

    Cleaning, sorting, ordering, make easier, better, faster...the first results can be improved. The rules and standard may need to be updated to take inot account the new achievements, raising the standards, hense the objectives.

Quick hits

5S quick hits is a condensed yet violent method chosen by management or purposely recommended by consultants.

It shakes the slumbering teams and instals the new rules in a very short time.
The impulse given must be quickly followed by others in other areas of the shop or plant.

Key to success are steady efforts, rythm, total involvement of management and quality of tutoring to insure a sustained effort.



Management involvement

Manager's involvement, so often required and sometimes criticized, must be real.

It ensures means and resources necessary to carry out the project, as well as interest for results and communication about project and achievements.

The actors (those carrying out the action) on the shopfloor are often too demanding toward management, awaiting too much from management's involvement.
It is not up to directors and chiefs to carry out 5S actions !

5S are meant to improve working people, employees work environement, setup their own new housekeeping (and working?) rules and foster their autonomy on those topics.

The counterpart to this freedom to build the new environment, is the shopfloor people's activ participation and their involvement.


This page is a courtesy of ©hris HOHMANN - http://chohmann.free.fr/