5S & 7S- A must require for Lean Transformation

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5S & 7S- A must require for Lean Transformation

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together” by Vincent Van Gough

5S is a Japanese tool that become evolved by Toyota as part of their lean production system. 5S is an improvement tool for organizing & maintaining a disciplined, safe, clean and productive workplace. It helps to create a better working environment, reduces waste while improving efficiency & quality. For a company imposing 5S, this tool turns into the bottom for all different Lean Manufacturing tools to be used. It’s designed to help build a quality work environment, both physically & mentally. 

5S in the workplace represents five simple practices that begin with the letter ‘S’ which are:Sort – Seiri

  • Setting in order – Seiton
  • Shine – Seiso
  • Standardize – Seiketsu
  • Sustain- Shitsuke

In easy terms, the 5S methodology helps a workplace eliminate items that are no longer needed (sort), organize the items to optimize efficiency & flow (straighten or set in order), clean the area so that problems can be identified more easily (shine), implement color-coding & labels to stay consistent with other areas (standardize) and develop behaviors that keep the workplace organized over the long term (sustain).

5S is also known as 6S or 5S+S (adding Safety or Security) or even 7s (adding Spirit and Safety).

Benefits of implementation 7s
  1. Sort (Seiri)

Sort is the first step of the 5S. It refers to the practice of sorting all the mess & clutter within the workplace while keeping only what is required. This means distinguishing between Value Added and Non-Value Added items at the place of work and getting rid of non-value-added items which enable an effective transformation.

Sorting’s benefits include more efficient use of workspace, a reduction in hazards, simplified tasks, and a notable decrease in distracting clutter.

Action Steps:

  • Identify a 5S-project area & take “before” pictures.
  • Review sorting criteria.
  • Develop a local red tag area.
  • Tag, record & shift red-tagged items. In the “red-tagging” process all work items are sorted through, with a red tag placed on any item that is not of any use for completing a task. Once supplies, tools, materials & equipment have been tagged, they are then shifted to a holding area for a follow-up evaluation.
  • Take “after” pictures.

To find the value of each item, ask yourself:

    O What is the purpose of this item?

    O Why is it here?

    O How often is it used?

    O Who uses it?


  • Floor space is utilized effectively.
  • Search time for tools & materials is reduced.
  • Inventory cost of unnecessary items is reduced.
  1. Straighten or Setting in Order (Seiton)

The Straighten step of 5s in the workplace is more than just organizing the work area. The initial goal of this step is to arrange equipment & supplies in a way that optimizes process efficiency and then create a work environment that is uncluttered, organized, and easily navigable.

After the unnecessary clutter has gone, you can rearrange the required items so that anyone can locate & access them easily. It defines where & how the items to perform the work should be arranged. This step guarantees that every single object has its vicinity, and those items go back to their vicinity in VUCA.

Action Steps:

  • Take “before” pictures.
  • Implement workplace changes.
  • Mark locations by generating addresses and applying marking, labeling & color-coding.
  • Take “after” pictures.

Some questions to ask during this step might be:

    O Which particular items are needed to perform a task?

    O How many items need to be readily accessible?

    O Where these items should be located?


  • Take things out & keep things back easily.
  • Work environment becomes safe.
  • Make lesser mistakes.
  • Reduce searching time.

Also See- What is Benchmarking and its Benefits?

  1. Shine (Seiso)

Shine is also known as Cleanliness or Scrub. Shine aims of producing a clean workplace without rubbish, dirt, or dust. It includes a thorough cleaning of the work area, all the systems, the tools to be used, machines & equipment to be used in the manufacturing unit of the company. This will permit smooth identification of abnormalities which include repeat contamination earlier than the problem gets worse. Shining additionally enables in developing ownership of the work area making it more secure & pleasant to work in the organization transformation.

This step is condemned as a way of sustaining the improvements started in the Sort & Set phases. 

Action Steps:

  • Adopt cleaning as a daily activity.
  • Get cleaning supplies.
  • Take “before” pictures.
  • Clean the work area.
  • Fix small defects.
  • Take “after” pictures 


  • Workplace becomes free of dirt & stains which is the initial point for quality.
  • Equipment lifetime will be extended and breakdowns will be less.
  • Creates a pleasant environment.
  • Prevents accidents.
  1. Standardize (Seiketsu)

5S needs a commitment to standardize processes & procedures. It is only through standardization of the first three steps of 5S or 7S of good housekeeping that companies can be sure expectations are clear & communicated properly and that procedures are followed continuously. 

It makes sure that whatever work was performed in the first 3 steps is now standardized accordingly. It means doing the correct things correctly all the time. This should develop a work structure that will support the new practices & turn them into habits. Whether it’s an online checklist or verbal reminders, set aside time to help foster an environment where tasks become routine. 

Standardization aims to ensure that everyone in the company follows the same procedure, the same size of signalization/floor marking, shapes, colors, etc ultimately leading to a better lean transformation.

Action Steps:

  • Make procedures & forms for evaluating the status of the first three S’s.
  • Inter-departmental competition is a good means of sustaining & enhancing interest in 5S in the workplace.
  • Ensure all stakeholders are aware of the new standards.


  • Constancy in the work practices.
  • Activities will be simplified.
  • Avoid mistakes.
  • Better visual and transparency management work efficiency will improve.
  1. Sustain (Shitsuke)

The final step of 5S in the workplace is the most challenging: Once the first four phases have been implemented, you must now focus on Sustaining what has been achieved. A proper schedule should be maintained such that everyone follows the other S at the same time. Besides, it should be noted that implementing the 5S should be the responsibility of each member of the organization for its successful transformation. This stage involves housekeeping & auditing of the processes tools and equipment. It is throughout this stage that the work routine turns into a culture.  

Action Steps:

  • Periodic facility management engagement is needed to check that the first four S’s are implemented perfectly.
  • Evaluate 5S effectiveness and consistently improve.
  • Commitment, dedication, devotion & sincerity are required in the implementation of 5S on daily basis.
  • Acknowledge & reward powerful efforts.


  • Helps you to develop teamwork.
  • Generates sound environment and a good workplace.
  • Provides you with data for improving 5S.

Benefits of Implementing the 5S Program:

  • Safer work environment.
  • Reduction in delays.
  • Higher equipment availability.
  • Lower defect rates.
  • Reduced costs.
  • Increased production agility & flexibility.
  • Improved employee morale & motivation.
  • Improved organization image to suppliers, customers, employees & management.

Points to Remember

While implementing the strategy of 5S, one should consider some essential things: 

  • 5S should be designed for each task or process distinctly.
  • 5S is not only for manufacturing, but it should also be implemented in the office areas.
  • The management should participate, audit & review regularly the 5S so that it remains productive and an improvement-oriented culture can be facilitated.

Check out the Video-


While 5S is still very popular, some organizations choose to modify it by adding one or more additional steps. 7S is the extension of 5S with an additional 2S. Generally, which are used together with the 1st five to create 7S, are Safety & Spirit. 7S intends to eliminate Muda (waste).

Only implementing the 7S of good housekeeping is not sufficient. Continuous monitoring & controlling all 7S activities is also essential and it can be monitored by managing the questionnaire survey at a constant interval. If the responses are poor then it presents the degradation of the workplace organization.

  1. Safety

Safety is often said that it is implied within 5S that everything should be performed with safety as the primary priority, but to make sure that is the case, Safety is added as an additional S. It is specifically important in warehouses, manufacturing, heavy equipment, construction, healthcare & laboratory settings, and in other circumstances where possibly dangerous equipment may be involved, and less important in office settings in organization transformation.

Safety is the condition of being protected against physical, spiritual, social, financial, emotional, occupational, psychological, educational, or other types or consequences of failure, error, damage, accident, harm, that could be considered non-desirable. An organization that prioritizes Safety during its process of transformation experiences dividends in terms of reliability, caring, compassion & respect. These attributes of a world-class organization are key to a culture of continuous improvement and human empowerment.

Action Steps: 

  • Error Proofing (Poka-yoke technique).
  • Instructions regarding safety & symbols.
  • Warning, Hazard area identification & marking with symbols.
  • Safety training to employees.


  • Decreases accidents.
  • Avoid errors or mistakes.
  • Safer work environment.

Check out the Video-

  1. Spirit

Spirit is a willingness to cooperate as part of a team. As leaders understand the effect of company culture and the significance of respect for employees, the need for this additional component becomes clear. Spirit is about changing and maintaining the corporate culture with employee engagement at all levels. Without engaged workers, the 5S in the workplace approach will not be successful.

Action Steps:

  • Develop 7S team with a team leader.
  • Daily meetings to set standards & strategies for achievement.
  • Motivational speeches or training for the 7S team regularly.


  • Better Understanding & Analysis on problems.
  • Better communication & higher confidence to do work.
  • Generates healthy work environment.
  • Reduces boredom approach toward the job.

Benefits of Implementing 7S

  • Floor space utilization is improved.
  • Satisfaction & morale of employees improves.
  • Workflow becomes well organized & smoother and non-value-added activities are removed.
  • Time for searching tools, materials & documents is reduced.
  • Along with the productivity of the organization, the quality of products and services is improved.
  • Machine breakdowns are decreased, and it also becomes easier to diagnose and repair before they occur, so prolonged equipment life. 

Final Word

When fully implemented, the 5S methodology process amplifies moral, develops positive impressions on customers, and increases efficiency. Visual Management & 5S methodologies implemented for the spontaneity of the workplace. To get the greatest success, the nature & implication of each “S” need to be understood by each employee and should be regularly practiced. The 7S activities should continuously be monitored. The 7S of good housekeeping improves organizations’ performance in terms of higher productivity, fewer accidents, better quality, clean, safe, and healthier working environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

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