Six Sigma: The 5S Tool

The 5S stands for Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. It is a systematic approach to workplace organization and cleanliness, aiming to reduce waste, improve safety, and enhance productivity.


  • The first step is to go through all equipment and materials and determine what must be retained at the worksite. Only essential tools, aids, equipment, and so on are allowed to remain. When you find something that doesn’t belong, return it to the correct person or department or simply get rid of it. Put a red tag on these items and get proper authorization before scrapping, selling, or recycling them


  • After Step 1, all you have left at the worksite are essentials. You must now give each of these a single, proper place. You’ve heard the saying, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” That’s exactly what we’re talking about. Be creative in establishing places for things so that returning an item to where it belongs is natural or easy.
  • It’s like creating a “shadow board” for tools, with a silhouette for each tool that makes knowing where to put the tool back a cinch. In that way, anyone working in the area can find what they need and know where to put it when they’re done so that it’s ready for its next use. And if an essential tool is absent, that fact is immediately apparent.


  • To help maintain the order you’ve created, thoroughly clean everything remaining at the worksite. The time and money spent on polishing or repainting, if needed, will be returned many-fold in more-positive employee attitudes and greater productivity, an increased ability to detect equipment problems, fewer contamination and defects, and improved safety.


  • Where possible, make worksites consistent. All workstations for a particular job should be identical so that someone from another worksite can immediately step in and productively run the process if necessary. Think of the value business travel hotels add by standardizing the layout, the furniture, and other amenities across all their locations. That fosters a familiar environment for their guests and increases their guests’ productivity (not to mention the hotel staff’s).


  • This final step means to put a schedule and system in place for maintaining and refreshing the 5S-ed worksite. The actions of 5S are everyone’s job, not just the janitor’s or cleaning crew’s.
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Saniya Gazala

Saniya Gazala is a Computer Science graduate from Reva University. She began as a manual tester, honing her skills in defect identification and problem-solving. Transitioning to technical writing, she simplified complex tech concepts for users. Her journey is marked by continuous learning and growth in the tech industry.

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