5S Tips & tricks
Cabinets and shelves
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Last update: April 16th, 2010
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Cabinets and shelves

Cabinets and shelves are part of the business environment, in the workshops or office. These pieces of furniture have to be part of the 5S discipline, and not be considered as convenient hiding places for leftovers and scrap!


From visual management and 5S point of view, cabinets have one weak point: solid doors. These doors hide the cabinet content, its state of orderliness and restrain quick access to documents, tools, or other items stored. Closed doors do not allow to see from remote place nor immediately, if a needed item, tool or document is at its. It is then necessary to move to the cabinet, open it and... discover.

The tip for cabinets is to remove doors, to let the content be visible.
Once visible, content must comply to 5S rules:

  • Be really useful and of frequent usage

  • Have a defined location

  • Be clean and ready for next use

If doors cannot be removed, could they be replaced by some transparent material (glass, plexiglas, etc.)?



Open shelves, made with uprights and plates, are visually and FiveSly better than cabinets, as stored items remain visible from 4 open sides. Lack of sides and rear plates prevent from storing slack items which could fall out.

As for cabinets, shelves content has to find its given place, depending on usage frequency.

Storage locations will be marked visually (shapes, outlines, colors, references, codes...) so that everyone can know what is missing or where to place what they bring back.



The author, Chris HOHMANN, is managing partner in a consulting firm.

He deals with industrial and logistics performance.

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