5S Practices in Manufacturing: How Lean Principles Save Time and Money

As you research the advantages of lean manufacturing principles, the term “5S” will appear. The 5S practices in manufacturing is a collection of protocols that serve to reduce time and waste in manufacturing. Stemming from Henry Ford’s CANDO system, 5S is a Toyota-based methodology that is still very much in use today. As the name indicates, this practical approach to lean manufacturing can be broken down into five pieces: sort, set, shine, standardize, and sustain.

Graph showing 5S practices in manufacturing.

Sort: Identify and Eliminate Unnecessary Items

The first point on the 5S list focuses on eliminating unnecessary materials and items for your build. An in-depth evaluation is conducted to identify the materials and tasks that are no longer needed and ensures their removal. Physical items are disposed of appropriately, while tasks that are deemed unnecessary are removed from procedural handbooks and project Gantt charts.

As easy as this sounds, it can be quite challenging for an organization to execute action items in this first 5S area. Pack-rat attitudes can easily prevail, causing some internal inefficiencies to exist after the sorting initiative has been executed. Adding an external manufacturing partner to your internal team will help you to conduct a more thorough review of sorting, providing decisive recommendations where your internal teams may waver.

Set: Set Items into Order

The dominant trait in a successful lean manufacturing strategy is organization. Having a perfect alignment of skill sets and task assignments is critical in completing project tasks on time and with precision. From design to prototyping and out to final production, the goal in this 5S step is to maximize operational efficiency without the worry of wasteful practices creeping back into the picture. Accessibility, especially to other project team’s data, is a key factor for success in this step.

Encouraging collaboration amongst project teams is crucial to effective lean manufacturing. Often it’s problematic establishing high levels of cohesion when setting tasks and timelines. Filling in this gap using the expertise of external lean manufacturing consultants will help you smooth your processes into alignment, giving your projects the concise, set order of task executions required to fully execute a lean manufacturing strategy, propelling your project forward.

Shine: Remove the Clutter

Creating an organized flow and eliminating excess waste of materials and tasks are not one-time operations. Controls must be implemented to monitor and identify emerging points of waste or tasks that are no longer in logical alignment with manufacturing operations. These must be reviewed regularly. Those doing the monitoring require adequate tools and access to the responsible teams if they are to respond with agility and precision.

This 5S point is all about sustaining what you’ve achieved with the first two 5S areas. Being able to identify and proactively make changes to keep your lean production processes on target is critical to supporting the production schedule. This requires that the right tasks are being watched, and optimal, supportive changes to agile, lean manufacturing are put into place. Having the expertise of an experienced lean manufacturing team at your disposal will promote that achievement.

Standardize: Consistent Best Practices in Every Area

The preceding 5S points will build a solid base for the following two 5S practices. The first of these, standardization, will build and maintain best practices throughout the manufacturing process. This involves the creation of well-defined controls and guidelines based on upholding lean processes. The purpose of the third 5S point is to turn these guidelines into tasks that are completed automatically.

Instilling points of standardization are challenging, as this often requires behavioral changes on the part of the individual project team members. This can be Sisyphean for one person, so having an outside influence yields superlative results. The voice of an external party will have skill aligning teams to new standardization guidelines, meaning better retention, which in turn will prepare your teams for sustainable 5S practices.

Sustain: Make Lean Production Standards an Organizational Habit

Turning newly defined lean practices into routinely executed tasks is the final 5S practice, and the most challenging. Without sustainability checks in place, the gains realized from the other 5S tasks will soon revert to their former conditions, leaving you in the same, unenviable position of waste as before. Lacking well-defined checks will mean that team members are likely to revert to the habits they were most comfortable performing.

Adding the expertise of an experienced manufacturing consultant will enable you to promote a new, higher standard of work in all areas of your business. They will present you with best practice implementation methods, including constructive accountability to go along with in-depth process monitoring. In this way, the lean and powerful manufacturing practices you sought will stick, making everyone’s job simpler while boosting overall performance.

Add the 5s Practices in Manufacturing Model to Your Team

Integrating the essential points of the 5S practices into your manufacturing processes are necessary to maximize performance. Keeping things lean from the start to the end of your projects is simplified by following the 5S practices. Aligning your business to meet these goals can be a complex project of its own, but the process will be streamlined by introducing a team of manufacturing experts to guide you through its completion.

Designing and implementing the 5S practices into your manufacturing processes can be made easier when you rely on the experienced engineers at Pacific Research Laboratories. Our team of experts will build lean product manufacturing standards that embrace best 5S practices, ensuring maximized product from start to finish. To learn more about our services, please visit our contact page or call (206) 408-7603.