What is 5S?

5S is a simple and structured approach to create a better organised, tidier and more effective workplace in any business environment.

Lean thinking means that you focus on reducing waste and adding value to a process, a product family, to a department, a division. And when you apply Lean principles to your operation you can start to identify and remove the wasted and unnecessary effort, delays, decisions, costs, paperwork, processes, inventory, handling etc.

5S is a strategy for businesses to create a cleaner, safer and more orderly working environment, irrespective of industry sector. Importantly it needs a disciplined approach at all levels to maintain such an environment. We believe a Lean culture needs and is built on the 5S approach, which for us is organised, effective and safe.

The 5S approach

What does 5S mean?

The 5S approach originated in Japan and is linked with Toyota. Most organisations and indeed most households in that country use some form of 5S to keep “organisation and orderliness”. The process steps are described with five Japanese words that start with the letter “S” (Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, Shitsuke) thus the term 5S. The process steps are translated in English as:

Sort and Remove

Shine and Inspect

Set locations
and visual cues


Stay the course

The benefits of 5S

5S creates an organised, effective and safe environment.

5S helps remove and eliminate many types of waste. It clears the clutter that complicates work, restricts movement and access and impedes efficiency. It identifies hidden problems which, when visible, can be eliminated.

Implementing 5S creates a tone of enthusiasm, optimism and ownership among those involved. It gives each individual a part in improving their own workspace.

5S contributes to a safer working environment by eliminating many hazards associated with working around clutter, dirt and excessive materials.

5S provides a great image to portray to people from outside the organisation, especially customers. A really good environment demonstrates your company’s commitment to efficiency, quality, safety and self-discipline.

5S is the foundation for further workplace improvements. Both the uncluttered work environment and the disciplined routines are essential elements to establishing Lean practices.

Process industry productivity issues

5S and Productivity Improvement

Productivity improvement is achieved by better use of all the resources in an organisation so applying Lean principles such as 5S makes perfect sense. With a commitment to Lean the return is ongoing because Lean is a process of continuous improvement.

Productivity Pointer

Find and address bottlenecks otherwise improving other areas in the process or sequence of events may have little beneficial effect.

Find out more

How to learn more about 5S

Scott-Grant is widely acknowledged as “outstanding” in delivering training for people wanting to study 5S

Training courses that cover 5S

Here is a list of training courses where 5S is included in the content.

Or we can supply Lean specialists on a project or contract basis to help you in your business. Ask us for details.

What to do next

If you need to improve capacity or reduce costs, or you need accurate data to determine how best to cope with change, we can provide the right way forward – cost-effectively. Remember that improving productivity is about making the better use of all your resources and vitally, making much better use of the critical ones.

Whichever business sector you operate in, the chances are we’ve helped people to address their productivity issues and improve the way they operate.

Scott-Grant can really help you improve your productivity and become more streamlined.

to help you understand more about

The 5S Approach