What is 5S Methodology.

Here a short video that explains why the 5S is a Methodology.

This video was made by 9 Lean Experts!

If you want to join the group visit: www.patreon.com\leanvlog

What does the S in 5s stand for

The S in the 5S Methodology starts from the Japanese Words:

  1. Seiri
  2. Seiton
  3. Seiso
  4. Seiketsu
  5. Shitsuke

These words are translated in English (by having the same meaning) are:

  1. Sort
  2. Set in Order
  3. Shine
  4. Standardize
  5. Sustain

What is 5S Methodology?

The 5S methodology is probably the most famous tool in Lean.

It is easy to implement and gives an immediate impact on quality and productivity.

The 5S Methodology gives a visual impact on people that the Lean Journey is started.

It has to be clear that 5S methodology is not only clean up.

The real goal of 5S is:

– 7 Wastes Reduction
– Reduce Variation
– Improve quality
– Improve productivity

It is a methodology because you have to instill a new mindset.

From a messy workplace to a very well organized workplace.

Further, there is a path to follow …

#1 Sort
Keep only what you need

#2 Set in order
Everything with a place … a place for everything.

#3 Shine
Clean is better … Clean to inspect

#4 Standardize
Who does what … clearly.

#5 Sustain
Check to avoid to slip back to chaos

Strive to go to the 5th S, or you will waste time.

The real benefits of the 5S methodology are when you reach the final “S.”

Do not hesitate and start now with a 5S in a little portion of the company!


5S Training – My Video Lessons

If you want to go into details I have prepared some videos with
a detailed explanation of each step of the 5S Methodology.

Start now!

5s Methodology – Lesson 1 – What is 5s in Lean


in this 5S training, I will explain to you all the aspects of the 5S Methodology in great detail.

The 5S Methodology is the most popular tool in Lean.

The 5S methodology is a way to keep workplaces safe, clean and productive but there are good and bad aspects to take into account.

Are you sure you have to start your lean journey with 5S?

5S Benefits

  1. It is easy to implement
  2. Usually has a good impact on quality and productivity
  3. Tell the organization that Lean has arrived

5S Disadvantages

  1. Can move the attention not the real priority
  2. Can be seen only as a clean-up
  3. Lean can be associated only to 5S

5S Objectives

  1. Reduce 7 wastes
  2. Reduce Variation
  3. Improve Productivity

5S Programs that are successful are in workplaces where there is the need to achieve these 3 goals.


5S is also a change of mindset

My company is unorganized and messy

My company is very well organized and everyone knows where everything is.

The 5S meaning starts from the Japanese words:
Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, Shitsuke.

In English are commonly used:
Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain.

You have to remember them in the right order and start a 5S Program by following them strictly without jumping steps.

Normally, starting with a 5S is often a good choice but you have to perform each “S” properly.


5S Methodology – Lesson 2 – The Sort Step

I will explain to you how to perform the SORT of 5S methodology properly.

The Sort is to throw out what is not used or needed.

decide with the team the sorting criteria:

For example:

What do we want to keep?
1) Items used at least weekly
2) Items for quick customer response
3) Item for safety


The team has to classify according to the sort criteria.
They have to scan all the items in the area under 5S.

If the item is never used or in doubt then red tag the item or throw it out.

Red Tag is a label with a date of 5S event and it helps to understand when the item was scanned by the team.

You can put the tagged items in a big box close to the place where the team is performing the 5S.

If in a certain period the tagged item is not used then it can be thrown out, recycled or sold.

The 5S Sort should be done regularly (i.e. every 6 months).

Pay attention not to be too zealous.

Within reason leave people to have personal items in their workspace, you have to help them to have a comfortable workplace.

After this first step, the workplace will appear to you already better than the beginning.

5S Methodology – Lesson 3 – The Set in Order Step

I will explain to you how to implement the SET IN ORDER step of the 5S properly.

At this stage, you should have only the item you need in the workplace.

The goal is to locate these items in the best place.

My grandmother used to say:

A place for everything and everything in its place.

You can reach this goal by using:

  • Shadow boards
  • Labels
  • Footprints
  • Floor Marking
  • Trolleys
  • Color Code

Locate Items by frequency of use to minimize the excess of movements (i.e. Stretching and Bending).

You can use the spaghetti charts for analysis with the team to test different layout before starting labeling.

Ergonomic principles and safety should have a key role in this step.

For example, if you have a very frequently used item, it is better to locate in a zone close to the point of use and between the shoulder and the pelvis.

During the SET IN ORDER, you have to be like an engineer that works closely with people the normally works there to reduce wastes with their complete embracement of the solution.

It is forbidden to force a solution in this stage.

On the other side keep in mind that the positions can be changed in the future.

5S Methodology – Lesson 4 – The Shine Step

he Shine Step of the 5S Methodology is often under-evaluated.

This is not a simple physical tidy up but has to be done as a “Visual Control” to correct immediately for anything out of place and asking why the item was in the wrong position.

Cleaning is checking!

The team has not just to clean up, they have to highlight any abnormalities and perform the 5 why’s analysis to find the root cause.

For example: if they clean up a machine and oil leakage is discovered, they have to clean up and immediately ask themselves why the oil leakage is occurring and plan what should be done for prevention.

The Shine step has to be done regularly, too.

You can decide what is meaningful for you.




You have to designate who is responsible for what and what the cleaning standard is.

Further, the equipment to perform the regular cleaning has to be located close to the point of use with a visual station.

Again, “Cleaning is checking!”

So, into the Shine step you could include:

  • Gauge Checking
  • Lube
  • Keeping track of the 5S Activities
  • Old communications to be removed

If you arrange the “Shine” in a structured way with all the team members involved you will be surprised about what you can get in 1 hour of work.

5S Methodology – Lesson 5 – Standardize, Sustain and Safety.

The “Standardize” step where most of the 5S program starts to fail!

The team has to decide who does what and when in a very detailed way.

I already told you something in the Shine Step and the tool I would like to suggest is the RACI table.

My suggestion is to make the RACI table visible in the area so everyone can always know what is his/her task to carry out.

Further, you have to remember that in the standardize you have to include:

  • Measuring
  • Recording
  • Training
  • Work Balancing.

The last step of the 5S Methodology is the “Sustain”.

This step is about participation and improvement.

The goal is to make the “5S” a habit.

The best way is to create something like a competition among departments with the leadership auditing the areas and giving awards regularly.

What is normally done in some companies is a regular walk with audits.

  • First-Line Supervisor audit on a daily base.
  • Area Manager on a weekly base.
  • Section Manager on a monthly base.
  • Plant Manager on a quarterly base.

Some companies speak about 6S.

They add the Safety to the 5S.

There are a lot of links between the 5S Methodology and the Safety because with an excellent 5S implementation you can reduce a lot of risks, you can get ergonomics and remove unsafe conditions.


I strongly suggest starting with a 5S program in some areas you want to learn the methodology.

The best way to learn 5S is by doing it!

5S Examples – The Videos to understand.

Here there are some videos you can see to understand the real application of the 5S.

5S Example in a Cabinet.

5S at Weber BBQ

5S Application in Healthcare

5S application in a Restaurant