Increase your company’s productivity with the 5S method

How can you ensure the development of your business ? First of all, give your employees all the resources they need to do their jobs properly . But at the same time, you need to ensure their operational performance. You need to ensure that your employees are not only productive, but also responsive. To do this, you need to provide them with a suitable and ergonomic working environment. It has to be clean and tidy.

A better way of doing this is to apply the 5S method. It was created and applied in the manufacturing industry. But its use is now spreading to other sectors. Find out more about this organisational method.

What is the 5S method?


The 5S method originated in Japan, at theToyota factory . The post-war crisis did not hinder its performance. In fact, the company was able to increase its production at and maintain the efficiency and quality of its products. What was the secret behind this success? Foreign companies sought the answer to this question.

But at the time, Toyota kept well under wraps the concept that enabled it to weather the crisis. Years later, Taiichi Ono’s lean method was unveiled. The implementation of this tool is at the origin of the efficiency of theToyota Production System (TPS).

What is the lean methodology? It’s a management and organisational technique based on theprinciple of continuous improvement. It is designed to reduce costs and increase the productivity and quality of services and products. Several approaches inspired by this concept have emerged, such as :

5S is one of the tools and methods used to apply this latest lean approach. It aims to continuously improve the quality of workplaces .


Does your employee take a long time to find a document, a file in his workstation, an instrument in his toolbox? You must know that something is wrong. It’s usually an organisational fault.

The 5S method is a great ally in this case. Part of the fundamental principles of the Kaizen method, this practice of optimising the working environment is effective. It helps to keep a space clean, tidy, organised and productive.

The principles of the 5S method

How do you implementthe 5S method? It consists of 5 steps, each of which has a Japanese name beginning with the letter “S”:

Seiri – Remove

This is the first step in the 5S approach, and involves sorting through the work environment. The aim of “seiri” is to make an effort to eliminate all unnecessary and superfluous objects .

If an item serves no purpose in operational procedures, don’t hesitate to get rid of it. Otherwise, all sorts of useless objects will end up cluttering and polluting your offices. They could even become a source of confusion for your staff. Applying this approach means keeping your workplace in order . But be careful! You need to proceed methodically to avoid losing an important object.

Seiton – Locate

This isthe time to tidy up and organise the space. The seiton stage is carried out so that your employees can quickly locate each tool or item they need. To do this, you need to apply the motto: “a place for everything and everything in its place”. A simple act of tidying up helps to avoid wasting time and boosts responsiveness in the workplace.

Seiso – Clean

After tidying up and organising, it’s time toclean up or spruce up the works pace. You need to provide your staff withworkstations that are free of dirt. This will ensure their well-being and health at work, both physically and mentally, as well as their professional experience.

During the seiso stage, you can check all the means of production. This is a way of identifying problems in advance. For example, you inspect each machine thoroughly during cleaning. This allows you to detect any oil leaks in advance.

Neglecting this step could have serious consequences. These includeequipment failure or malfunction, which will delay work and reduce productivity . There is also the risk of accidents.

Seiketsu – Standardisation

At this stage, you need to have a clean workspace. All the steps mentioned above (Remove, Locate, Clean) need to be standardised. The aim of the seiketsu approach is tokeep the works pacein good condition .Sorting, tidying and cleaning must be carried out regularly.

Seiketsu becomes a genuine approach to organisationalexcellence . How do you implement it? You need to start by drawing up a timetable indicating the dates on which the operations are to be carried out.

Next, you need toimplement methods, tools and procedures to achieve the desired result. Finally, draw up rules to be followed by each user to prevent the premises from becoming a mess.

Shitsuke – Follow

Shitsuke is the final stage in implementing the 5S method. Be rigorous! You have to get your employees to agree to follow every rule. The aim of all this is to establish a culture of continuous improvement. Ideally, you should organise regular audits to check compliance with the disciplines.

The benefits of the 5S method

There are many advantagestousing the 5S method in your factory, workshop or office.

Reduced waste and wastage

First and foremost, this lean approach reduces waste and the risk of wastage. You can make an inventory of unsold products and available raw materials. In this way, you can avoid unnecessary purchases and overproduction.

Idle time will also be reduced because the workspace is well organised. When everything is in its place, unnecessary movement is avoided. You can also optimise worker agility.

Implementinga 5S methodis essential in a factory where teamwork is a key element of success. This lean approach also helps to avoid over-processing. The result will be optimal operational performance.

Improved quality of work

The 5S method is above all a tool for improving working conditions. Your employees will work in a tidy environment. Errors in handling materials and unnecessary operations are avoided. No time will be wasted.

Efficiency in the execution of each task is also guaranteed. All this will improve the quality of your work. You can then ensure customer satisfaction, both in terms of product quality and production times .

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Ensuring the safety and well-being of your employees

Cleaning and tidying up your workspace also means eliminating all kinds of hazards such as falls and dangers. So the safety of your staff is guaranteed.

Note that this approach must integrate the process of continuously improving thestate of your workspace. This allows you to enhance the comfort and well-being of your employees. They will feel at ease as they go about their work. This will only improve their performance.

Good equipment management

During the cleaning stage, you will inspect your tools, raw materials and equipment. You will be able to detect losses and damage. The 5S method therefore enables you tomanage your resources more effectively.

High productivity and competitiveness

The 5S method is one of thetools for operational improvement, when it is standardised. But that’s not all! It also increases productivity. It’s easy to carry out operations, because all the necessary tools are readily available. Motivation is also enhanced by the pleasant working environment.

Tips for applying the 5S method on an ongoing basis

Do you want to invest inoperational excellence ? The5S method is a valuable tool. It will enable you to succeed in all your continuousimprovement projects. These will enable you to achieve your growth objectives. Find out how to implement it successfully.

Start with a diagnosis

You need to start by identifying the problems and the ways in which you canimprove your processes. It is also essential to identify the benefits of using 5Smethodologies.You can then easily obtain the support of general management.

This method could complement the Kanban method, which optimises stock management. It could also reinforce the effectiveness of the Kaizen method, which guarantees organisationalefficiency day afterday.

Preparing the project well

Before implementing 5Smethods, you need to prepare well. You need to define the purpose of the operation. You also need to specify the purpose and the expected benefits. It is therefore important to select the areas where the approach will be applied and the number of improvements required.

Next, you need to draw up a project managementschedule . First of all, you need to identify the person who willmanage the application of the method and the implementation team. Then you need to define the mechanism to be followed and the budget to be invested.

Train the team and deploy the system

If necessary, you need to train the team that is going to apply the 5S method. Once everything is in place, you can integrate the approach into the operational system. Regular monitoring of its use is necessary. You need to measure its performance by choosing the right indicators.

The 5S method is a continuous improvement tool that can be applied as part of lean management. It can help to improve supply-chain purchasing processes. However, we recommend adopting it in combination with Weproc. You can use our state-of-the-art purchasing management software to :

  • Sort and organise all your purchasing data and eliminate unnecessary information (Seiri)
  • Centralise all your purchasing activities for quick and easy access (Seiton)
  • Keep your data clean and up to date (Seiso)
  • Standardise purchasing processes (Seiketsu)
  • Establish routines and best practices within your company (Shitsuke):

Discover Weproc, easy-to-use software that adapts to the specific needs of each company. Many companies have integrated it with the 5S method in their purchasing function to control expenditure and improve supplier relations.


Want to learn more about our procurement management software Weproc? Contact us or request your free 15-minutes demo below!

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