5S was developed in Japan. It was first heard of as one of the techniques that enabled what was then termed 'Just in Time Manufacturing'. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's 5-year study into the future of the automobile in the late 1980s identified that the term was inappropriate since the Japanese success was built upon far more than components arriving only at the time of requirement. John Krafcik, a researcher on the project, ascribed Lean to the collective techniques being used in Japanese automobile manufacturing; it reflected the focus on waste in all its forms that was central to the Japanese approach. Minimised inventory was only one aspect of performance levels in companies such as Toyota and in itself only arose from progress in fields such as quality assurance and Andon boards to highlight problems for immediate action.
5S was developed by Hiroyuki Hirano within his overall approach to production systems. Many Western managers coming across the approach for the first time found the experience one of enlightenment. They had perhaps always known the role of housekeeping within optimized manufacturing performance and had always known the elements of best practice. However, Hirano provided a structure for improvement programs. He pointed out a series of identifiable steps, each building on its predecessor. Western managers, for example, had always recognized the need to decide upon locations for materials and tools and upon the flow of work through a work area; central to this (but perhaps implicit) is the principle that items not essential to the process should be removed – stored elsewhere or eliminated completely. By differentiating between Seiri and Seiton, Hirano made the distinction explicit. He taught his audience that any effort to consider layout and flow before the removal of the unnecessary items was likely to lead to a sub-optimal solution.
Equally the Seiso, or cleanliness, phase is a distinct element of the change program that can transform a process area. Hirano's view is that the definition of a cleaning methodology (Seiso) is a discrete activity, not to be confused with the organisation of the workplace, and this helps to structure any improvement program. It has to be recognised, however, that there is inevitably an overlap between Seiton and Seiso. Western managers understood that the opportunities for various cleanliness methodologies vary with the layout and storage mechanisms adopted. However, breaking down the improvement activity in this way clarifies that the requirements for the cleanliness regime must be understood as a factor in the design aspect of Seiton. As noted by John Bicheno, Toyota's adoption of the Hirano approach, is '4S', with Seiton and Seiso combined – presumably for this very reason. The improvement team must avoid the trap of designing the work area and then considering the cleanliness or tidiness mechanism.
Here are five primary 5S phases : sorting, set in order, systematic cleaning, standardising, and sustaining. Also known as Sort, Straighten, Sweep, Standardise and Sustain.
Eliminate all unnecessary tools, parts. Go through all tools, materials, and so forth in the plant and work area. Keep only essential items and eliminate what is not required, prioritizing things per requirements and keeping them in easily-accessible places. Everything else is stored or discarded.
Straightening or Setting in Order to Flow
Arrange the work, workers, equipment, parts, and instructions in such a way that the work flows free of waste through the value added tasks with a division of labour necessary to meet demand. This is by far the most misunderstood and incorrectly applied S and has been responsible for many lean transformations failing to produce the benefits expected. When applied correctly with flow established this step eliminates the majority of the non-value-added time and allows the rest of the zero defect philosophy to be enabled. Put simply, until you have an orderly flow. you cannot have an orderly flow of problems to solve and the notion of zero defects is impossible.
Systematic Cleaning (Shine)
Clean the workspace and all equipment, and keep it clean, tidy and organized. At the end of each shift, clean the work area and be sure everything is restored to its place. This step ensures that the workstation is ready for the next user and that order is sustained.
Ensure uniform procedures and setups throughout the operation to promote interchangeability.
Ensure disciplined adherence to rules and procedures to prevent backsliding.
It is applicable to any organization who wants to practice the same.