5S Methodology - The Five Pillars Of Corporate World

5S Methodology - The Five Pillars Of Corporate World



If we talk about the corporate world, everyone is searching for competitive edge and needs something that will increase sale, reduce costs and make them more agile in changing business environment. Industries makes strategies and adopts plan to meet their targets. Today we are going through such a strategy that helps the industry to accomplish their goals. We are talking about 5S methodology. In this article we will see how 5S methodology transforms the working environment, its implementation and benefits for the organization. 5S methodology is a very wide field and it cannot be covered in few words. It is my try to give you a brief overview of this system. Let’s start.




What is 5S methodology?

In corporate world everyone wishes to achieve targets but there are many hurdles in the way. If there is no systematic approach then no organization will work systematically. Industries uses various approach according to need in their divisions to optimize results. One of the approaches is 5S methodology. It does not matter whether it is laboratory, corporate or repair facility, the principles of 5S translates for all. The structure and efficacy of this model provides benefits to any working environment.

In simple words 5S is a systematic approach to a workplace organization or 5S is a work system to manage workplace. We will see 5S is more than this. 5S creates a workplace environment that can adapt and succeed.  It is not about to eliminating tool boxes and cleaning up it is more than that. Chaos and non-productivity are enemies for the organization. If implemented correctly and followed diligently, 5S will lead to:

Lower costs

Better quality

Improved safety

Increased productivity

Higher employee satisfaction


The Five Pillars

5S methodology is sometimes refers as The Five Pillars System as it was adapted to support corporate like the civil pillars. The concept was originally accepted in Japan to support the effectiveness of the system. And just like the pillars of a building, if one was to weaken or fail, the entire structure would fall.  The five pillars of 5S methodology are:



Set in order





The first step of 5S is sorting. Sort is the process of removing all the items not needed for current production from the workspace. The goal of Sort is to eliminate all the unneeded tools and materials and create a space free of clutter. This allows for a workflow free from distraction. Sorting is cornerstone of 5S and it will help to get rid of problems which include:

#01 Tool and materials impeding workflow

#02 wasted times looking for parts, tools, and products 

#03 stockpiling unnecessary and expensive inventory

#04 safety hazards resulting from clutter

When executing the Sorting step, you must be vigilant and ruthless. Doing this first step correctly will lay the groundwork for 5S and ensure a successful implementation of the 5S model. Identifying unneeded parts and tools is not always an easy task. Employees and managers get so used to the chaos that they don’t even see it anymore. 5S has an effective tool that will help you with your sort process: red tags.  


Red Tag

Red Tags: These are tags that help in identifying objects/tools/spares that need to be replaced from the workplace. While execution if someone sees something and thinks that the item should not be placed there/here then a red tag should be put on that item. This lets everyone know that the item is to be evaluated. On the red tag indicate the following actions:

1. Leave the item where it is

2. Relocate the item

3. Dispose of the item

4. Recycle the item

5. Place in “Red Tag Holding Area”   

The Red Tag Holding Area is a location where items are placed until you determine their value.



5S - Methodology

 Set in Order

Set in Order is the process of putting everything in a place that is easy to get to. All items should be clearly marked so anyone can easily find its proper home. This phase should be executed only if the first step of five pillars is implemented successfully. This phase will be useless if sorting is not implemented properly. The purpose of Set in Order is to create standardize and consistent way to retrieve tools or materials.

Some standard procedures that should be followed while implementing this phase i.e. Set in Order:

If items are used together, store them together.

Put frequently used items closest to the user.

If possible, devise a let-go system in which tools are attached to a retractable cord and automatically go back to the stored position.  

Place items so the user doesn't need to bend or twist much to access them.

Arrange tools and materials in order of use.


Set in order utilizes some strategies like labeling and signs to identify the item or to give current status, line marking, and shadow board for tools to reduce time and to prevent chaos.   


5S - Methodology



If you eliminated all the clutter and sorted everything items as per plan/guidelines. Now it’s time to sanitize with shine. Shine means removing all the dirt and grime and keeping the workplace clean on daily basis. You want to get it clean and keep it clean. When you implement this step, two things will happen. First, your employees will like coming to work in a clean environment. Second, because you are keeping the equipment and your surroundings in great shape, you will have fewer injuries and fewer equipment breakdowns. That means greater productivity and fewer costs. In the 5S system, cleaning is everyone’s responsibility. Although you may still use a janitorial staff to tackle large jobs, the detailed cleaning will be done by your employees. You must train your staff to view dirt and chaos as an intolerable situation.  

This must be a culture that is followed from the CEO down to the apprentice.

Standardize your cleaning program for best results. Train your employees to do it correctly. Make sure they know what they are responsible for and give them the tools to do the job. Utilize checklists and diagrams for consistency.


5S - Methodology



Standardize creates a system of tasks and procedures that will ensure the principles of 5S are performed on a daily basis. We all have our own way of doing things. This kind of individuality is great in our personal lives because it makes life more interesting. But non-conformity can be unproductive in the workplace. If your employees start doing things their own way, then things will start to get missed and conditions will slowly begin to deteriorate. The Standardize pillar utilizes a set of schedules and checklists that can be easily followed so each step of 5S is performed exactly the same way every day. This way, each employee knows what he needs to do, when he needs to do it, and exactly how to do it. There is no room for uncertainty. Standardize uses three steps to make sure that the 5S pillars are getting done consistently and correctly:

Make sure each employee knows his responsibilities.

Make it a part of their daily routine.

Periodic evaluation



Sustain gives your staff the commitment and motivation to follow each step, day in and day out. Once you start the 5S method at your business, you will see improvements very quickly. But the key to long-term success is simple: diligence.

Have you ever gone on a diet to lose a few pounds? In the beginning, you really keep at it. You stay away from those French fries, eat more fruits and veggies, and may even go for a jog a couple days a week. You lose six pounds in two weeks.

But inevitably, you start to slip. You’re out with friends and you indulge in dessert. Or you hit your favorite fried chicken joint. It’s only this one time, you say. Before you know it, you’re back to your old bad habits and have gained all of your weight back.

That’s just human nature. If there is nothing to keep you motivated, you will start to cut corners and slip. The fifth pillar, Sustain, is designed to keep your staff motivated and on track.

Take concrete steps to make sure 5S doesn't fall by the wayside. The five suggestions on the next page can help Sustain 5S and keep your program functioning well.

Assign the time to do it.

Start from the top.

Create a reward system.

Get everyone involved.

Let them see it.



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