Lean Times: The 5S Program – First in Series

5s System

5S System - source: EPA

This is the first article in a series of three articles focusing on 5S methods.

“Seiri,” “Seiton,” “Seiso,” “Seiketsu,” “Shitsuke”:  are a few terms not commonly thrown around the American food industry. Commonly known in American workplaces as the 5S methodology, these concepts, however, have become a dominant force in the food industry and elsewhere. Respectively, the terms can be roughly translated as: “sorting,” “straightening,” “shining,” “standardizing,” and “sustaining.”

Meant to maximize space, increase efficiency, assure quality, and increase safety, the 5S program can become part of a larger program of efficiency for all kinds of organizations. It has been implemented in factories, farms, offices, governmental settings, etc., and has become a standard operating procedure for an array of businesses.

5S asks its participants to perpetually critically look into their daily operations. For instance, in the “sorting” phase, there is a challenge placed before those taking part to look at all present materials and tools, and to eliminate any unnecessary materials or tools not needed for standard operations. This is all done before negotiating the “straightening” phase. As one makes their way through the process all the way to sustaining these best practices, new levels of understanding are reached not only about the physical space people are occupying, but also about the very nature and identity of the business. In the end, the 5S method is meant to create standardized, efficient, clean, and safe working environments, as well as acting as a part of a larger continuous, analytical search for means of improving any business.

In the next two weeks, we’ll be taking a closer look at Nelson-Jameson products that can assist you in the process of beginning or maintaining an already active 5S program.
In the meantime, to learn more about the general process you can link to the following federal resources: for information on 5S click here and for information on “Lean” programs and their relation to 5S click here.

A Picture of Mathew J. Bartkowiak, Ph.D.

About Mathew J. Bartkowiak, Ph.D.

Laboratory Products Department Manager, Nelson-Jameson, Inc.
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