The 5S, theoretical and implementation manual

The 5S, theoretical and implementation manual

The principle of order and cleanliness to which we will refer is called the 5S method and is of Japanese origin.

This concept shouldn’t be new to any company, but unfortunately, it is. The 5S movement is a concept linked to the orientation towards total quality that originated in Japan under the guidance of W.E. Deming more than 40 years ago and is included within what is known as continuous improvement or Gemba Kaizen.

DR.W.E. Deming

It arose from the Second World War, suggested by the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers as part of a quality improvement movement, and its main objectives were to remove obstacles that prevent efficient production, which also brought about a substantive improvement in hygiene and safety during production processes. Its range of applications covers from a position located in an automobile assembly line to the desk of an administrative secretary.

What is the 5S strategy?

It is called the 5S strategy because it represents actions that are principles expressed with five Japanese words beginning with S. Each word has an important meaning for creating a dignified and safe place to work. These five words are:

  • (Seiri)
  • (Seiton)
  • (six)
  • Standardized Cleaning. (Seiketsu)
  • (shitsuke)

The five “S” are the foundation of the industrial productivity model created in Japan and today applied in Western companies. It’s not that 5S is an exclusive feature of Japanese culture. All of us non-Japanese practice the five “S” in our personal lives and many times we don’t notice it. We practice Seiri and Seiton when we keep elements such as tools, fire extinguishers, garbage, towels, notebooks, rules, keys, etc. in appropriate places and identified.

When our work environment is disorganized and unclean we will lose efficiency and lower morale at work.

Factories, workshops, and offices that apply the five “S” in a standardized way in the same way as we maintain our personal belongings daily are rare. This should not be the case, since in daily work the routines of maintaining order and organization serve to improve the efficiency in our work and the quality of life in that place where we spend more than half of our lives. If we do the numbers, it is in our workplace where we spend the most hours in our lives. Given this, we should ask ourselves the following question… is it worth keeping it messy, dirty, and unorganized?

This is why the application of the 5S strategy becomes important. It is not about a fad, a new management model, or a process of implanting something Japanese that “dada has to do with our Latino culture.” It is simply a basic principle of improving our lives and making our workplace a place where it is worth living fully. And if with all this, in addition, we can improve our productivity and that of our company, why don’t we do it?

Need for the 5S strategy

The 5S strategy is a simple concept that people often do not give enough importance to, however, a clean and safe factory allows us to guide the company and the workshops toward the following goals:

  • Respond to the need to improve the work environment, and eliminate waste produced by disorder, lack of cleanliness, leaks, contamination, etc.
  • Seek the reduction of losses due to quality, response time, and costs with the intervention of the personnel in the care of the workplace and an increase in morale for the work.
  • Facilitate creating the conditions to increase the useful life of the equipment, thanks to the permanent inspection by the person who operates the machinery.
  • Improve standardization and discipline in compliance with the standards by having the personnel the possibility to participate in the development of cleaning, lubrication, and tightening procedures
  • Make use of visual control elements such as cards and boards to keep all the elements and tools involved in the production process organized
  • Preserve the workplace through periodic controls on the maintenance actions of the improvements achieved with the application of the 5S
  • Being able to implement any type of continuous improvement program for Just in Time production, Total Quality Control, and Total Productive Maintenance
  • Reduce potential causes of accidents and increase awareness of care and conservation of equipment and other company resources.

What is seiri? Seiri – Classify

Discard what is not needed

Seiri or classifying means removing from the work area all unnecessary elements that are not required to carry out our work.

Frequently we “fill” ourselves with elements, tools, boxes with products, carts, supplies, and personal items and it is hard for us to think about the possibility of doing the job without these elements.

We seek to have elements or components around, thinking that we will need them for our next job. With this thought, we create truly reduced stocks in a process that bothers, takes up space, and gets in the way. These elements impair the visual control of the work, impede circulation through the work areas, induce mistakes in the handling of raw materials, and on numerous occasions can cause accidents at work.

The first “S” of this strategy provides methods and recommendations to avoid the presence of unnecessary elements. The Seiri consists of:

  • Separate in the workplace the things that work from those that do not work.
  • Sort the necessary from the unnecessary for routine work.
  • Keep what we need and eliminate the excess
  • Separate the elements used according to their nature, use, safety, and frequency of use to facilitate agility at work.
  • Organize the tools in places where changes can be made in the shortest possible time.
  • Eliminate elements that affect the operation of the equipment and that can lead to breakdowns.
  • Eliminate unnecessary information and that can lead us to errors of interpretation or action.

Benefits of Seiri

The application of Seiri’s actions prepares workplaces so that they are safer and more productive. The first and most direct impact of the Seiri is related to security. In the presence of unnecessary elements, the work environment is tense, it prevents full vision of the work areas, it makes it difficult to observe the operation of the equipment and machines, and the emergency exits are hindered, making all this that the work area is more insecure.

The practice of Seiri, in addition to the security benefits, allows:

  • Free up useful space in plants and offices
  • Reduce access times to material, documents, tools, and other work items.
  • Improve the visual control of stocks of spare parts and production elements, folders with information, plans, etc.
  • Eliminate the losses of products or elements that deteriorate due to being exposed for a long time in an environment that is not suitable for them; for example, packaging material, labels, plastic containers, cardboard boxes, and others.
  • Facilitate visual control of raw materials that are running out and that is required for a process in one shift, etc.
  • Prepare the work areas for the development of autonomous maintenance actions, since the leaks, leaks, and contamination existing in the equipment can be easily seen and are frequently hidden by unnecessary elements that are found near the equipment.


The purpose of Seiri or classifying means removing from workstations all items that are not necessary for daily production or office operations. Necessary items should be kept close to the “action,” while unnecessary items should be removed from the site or deleted.

The implementation of Seiri makes it possible to create a work environment in which space problems, loss of time, increased safety, and energy savings are avoided.

By implementing Seiri, the following benefits are obtained, among others:

  • Visual control of work elements, materials in process, and final product are improved.
  • The “smooth” flow of processes is achieved thanks to visual control.
  • Product quality is improved as visual checks help prevent defects.
  • The MTBF or mean time between equipment failures is improved.
  • It is easier to identify areas or work sites with potential risk of accidents at work.
  • Office staff can improve productivity in the use of time.



By not applying Seiri some of the following problems may occur:

  • The production plant and workshops are unsafe, there are more accidents, valuable time is lost to find some material, and work is made difficult.
  • Excess work-in-progress or final product, drawers, and cabinets used to store unnecessary items create the “canary cage” effect, which prevents communication between co-workers.
  • In the event of an alarm signal, the emergency routes, being occupied with unnecessary products or materials, prevent the rapid exit of personnel.
  • It is necessary to have cabinets and space measured in square meters to locate unnecessary materials. The financial cost is also affected for this reason.
  • It is more difficult to keep under control the stock that is produced by defective products. The existing volume of products in the process makes it easier to hide unnecessary stocks.
  • Compliance with delivery times may be affected due to loss of time as greater handling of materials and products is necessary.

How to implant the Seiri

Identify unnecessary items

The first step in the implementation of Seiri consists of the identification of unnecessary elements in the selected place to implement the 5S. The following aids can be used in this step:

List of unnecessary items

The list of unnecessary items should be designed and taught during the preparation phase. This list allows you to record the unneeded item, its location, quantity found, possible cause, and suggested action for removal. This list is completed by the operator, manager, or supervisor during the time in which it has been decided to carry out the Seiri campaign.

Color cards.

These types of cards allow you to mark or “report” that something unnecessary exists in the workplace and that corrective action must be taken. In some companies, they use green colors to indicate that there is a contamination problem, blue if the element is related to production materials, and red if it is about elements that do not belong

to work such as food containers, waste of safety materials such as torn gloves, unnecessary papers, etc. In Japan, the red card is frequently used to show or highlight the identified problem.

Common questions to ask to identify if an unnecessary item exists include:

  • Is this item necessary?
  • If it is necessary, it is necessary in this quantity?
  • If necessary, does it have to be located here?

Once the elements have been marked, each card used is recorded in the list of unnecessary elements. This list allows later to carry out a follow-up on all the identified elements. If necessary, a meeting can be held where it is decided what to do with the identified elements, since at the time of the “campaign” it is not possible to define what to do with all the unnecessary elements detected.

Decisions are made at the meeting for each item identified. Some actions are simple, like saving to a site, deleting if it’s low cost and not useful, or moving it to a store. Other more complex decisions that involve management must be consulted and require a wait and therefore the material or equipment must remain in place while the final decision is made, for example, to eliminate a machine that is not currently used.

Criteria for assigning Color Cards.

  • The most common criterion is the next month’s production schedule. Necessary items are kept in the specified area. Unnecessary items are discarded or stored in a different place.
  • Utility of the item to perform the intended work. If the element is not needed it should be discarded.
  • How often the item is needed? If needed infrequently it can be stored outside the work area.
  • Quantity of the item needed to perform the job. If needed in a limited quantity, the excess can be discarded or stored outside the work area.

Card Features

The cards used can be of different types:

  • A token with a consecutive number. This tab can have a thread that facilitates its location on the unnecessary element. These tokens are reusable, as they simply indicate the presence of a problem and in one format you can tell for the corresponding number, novelty, or problem.
  • Cards of intense colors. These cards are made of phosphorescent-colored paper to facilitate identification from a distance. The intense color serves as a visual control mechanism to inform that the “reported” problem is still present. These cards contain the following information:
  • Unnecessary element name
  • Why do we think it is unnecessary
  • Area of ​​origin of the unnecessary element
  • Possible reasons for your stay on the site
  • Suggested action plan for its removal.

red card example

On the next page, you can see a red card format used for visual control

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Action plan to remove unnecessary items.

During the day or day of the campaign, a large number of unnecessary elements were eliminated. However, various tools, materials, equipment, etc. remained. that could not be withdrawn due to technical problems or not having a clear decision on what to do with them.

For these materials, a plan must be prepared to phase them out. At this point, the philosophy of the Deming Cycle (PDC) can be applied to develop the actions that allow them to be withdrawn. The plan must contain the following points:

  • Keep the element in the same place.
  • Move the item to a new location within the plant.
  • Store the item outside of the work area.
  • Delete the item.

The plan should indicate the methods for disposing of the items: dispose of, sell, return to supplier, destroy or use, etc.

Control and final report.

It is necessary to prepare a report where the progress of the planned actions is recorded and reported, such as those that have been implemented and the benefits provided. The head of the area must prepare this document and publish it on the information board on the progress of the 5S process.

What is seiton? Seiton – Sort

A place for everything and everything in its place

Seiton consists of organizing the elements that we have classified as necessary so that they can be found easily. Applying Seiton in maintenance has to do with improving the visualization of the elements of machines and industrial facilities.

Once we have eliminated the unnecessary elements, the place where those that we need frequently should be located is defined, identifying them to eliminate the search time and facilitate their return to the site once used (this is the case of the tool).

Seiton allows:

  • Have a suitable place for each element used in routine work to facilitate their access and return to the place.
  • Have identified sites to locate items that are used infrequently.
  • Have places to locate the material or elements that will not be used in the future.
  • In the case of machinery, facilitate the visual identification of equipment elements, security systems, alarms, controls, directions of rotation, etc.
  • Ensure that the equipment has visual protections to facilitate its autonomous inspection and cleaning control.
  • Identify and mark all the auxiliary systems of the process such as pipes, compressed air, and fuels.
  • Increase knowledge of the equipment by production operators.

Benefits of Seiton for the worker

  • Provides quick access to items required for the job
  • Information in the workplace is improved to avoid errors and potential risk actions.
  • Grooming and cleaning can be done more easily and safely.
  • The presentation and aesthetics of the plant are improved, communicating order, responsibility, and commitment to work.
  • Space is freed up.
  • The work environment is more pleasant.
  • Security is increased due to the demarcation of all the sites of the plant and the use of transparent protections, especially those of high risk.

Organizational benefits

  • The company can count on simple systems for visual control of materials and raw materials in process stock.
  • Elimination of losses due to errors.
  • Increased compliance with work orders.
  • The condition of the equipment is improved and breakdowns are avoided.
  • The knowledge that the company possesses is conserved and used.
  • Improvement of the overall productivity of the plant.


The Seiton practice aims to locate the necessary elements in places where they can be easily found for use and again return them to the corresponding place.

The methodologies used in Seiton facilitate their coding, identification, and marking of areas to facilitate their conservation in the same place over time and in perfect conditions.

From the point of view of the application of Seiton in a team, this “S” has the purpose of improving the identification and marking of the controls of the machinery of the systems and critical elements for maintenance and their conservation in good condition.

In the Seiton offices, the purpose is to facilitate the files and the search for documents, improve the visual control of the folders, and eliminate the loss of time in accessing the information. The order on a computer’s hard drive can be improved if Seiton concepts are applied to file management.



The non-application of Seiton in the workplace leads to the following problems:

  • Increased number of unnecessary movements. The access time to an element for its use is increased.
  • The time of several people can be wasted waiting for the items that are being sought to carry out a job. We don’t know where the item is and the person who knows its location is missing. This indicates that a good identification of the elements is lacking.
  • Equipment without identifying its elements (direction of rotation or movement of components) can lead to poor assembly, malfunction, and serious errors when operated. Lubrication time can be increased by not easily knowing the required oil level, type, amount, and application site. All of this leads to wasted time.
  • The disorder does not allow visual control of the stocks in process and of office materials.
  • Errors in product handling. The machine is fed with defective materials not foreseen for the type of process. This leads to defects, wasted time, personnel crises, and a final effect of wasted time and money.
  • Failure to identify unsafe locations or high-risk equipment areas can lead to accidents and loss of morale at work.


Standardization means creating a consistent way of performing tasks and procedures. The standardization of machinery means that anyone can operate said machinery. Standardization of operations means that anyone can operate.

Order is the essence of standardization, a workplace must be completely ordered before applying any type of standardization.

How to implant the Seiton

The implementation of the Seiton requires the application of simple methods developed by the workers. The most used methods are:

visual controls

Visual control is used to inform easily among others the following topics:

  • Where the items are located
  • Frequency of lubrication of equipment, type of lubricant, and place to apply it.
  • Suggested standards for each of the activities that must be carried out in a team or work process.
  • Where to locate the material in process, final product, and if it exists, defective products.
  • The site where cleaning, cleaning, and classified waste items should be located.
  • The direction of rotation of motors.
  • Electric connections.
  • The direction of rotation of actuation buttons, valves, and actuators.
  • Liquid flow in a pipe, marking it, etc.
  • Manometer operating ranges (standards).
  • Where to locate the calculator, folders, pens, and pencils in the workplace.

Visual controls are closely related to standardization processes. A visual control is a standard represented by a graphic or physical, colored, or numerical element that is very easy to see. Standardization is transformed into graphics and these become visual controls. When this happens, there is only one place for everything, and we can tell immediately if a particular operation is proceeding normally or abnormally.

5S mapIt is a graphic that shows the location of the elements that we intend to order in an area of ​​the plant. The 5S Map allows you to show where to locate the tool store, security elements, fire extinguishers, eye showers, emergency corridors, fast escape routes, cabinets with documents or machine elements, etc.

The criteria or principles to find the best locations for tools and supplies are:

  • Locate the elements in the workplace according to their frequency of use.
  • The most frequently used items are placed near the place of use.
  • Infrequently used items are stored outside the place of use.
  • If the elements are used together they are stored together, and in the sequence in which they are used.
  • The tools are stored suspended from a spring in a position within reach, when released it returns to its initial position.
  • Storage places should be larger than the tools, for easy removal and placement.
  • Eliminate the variety of templates, tools, and supplies that serve multiple functions.
  • Store tools according to their function or product.
  • Function-based storage consists of storing together tools that serve similar functions.
  • Product-based warehousing is the storage of tools used on the same product together. This works best in repetitive production.

Location marking.

Once the best locations have been decided, a way is needed to identify these locations so that everyone knows where things are, and how many of each item are in each location. For this, you can use:

  • Location indicators.
  • Quantity indicators.
  • Signs and cards.
  • Name of the work areas.
  • Stock location.
  • Equipment storage place.
  • Standard procedures.
  • Arrangement of the machines.
  • Lubrication, cleaning, and safety points.

color marking

It is a method to identify the location of work points, the location of elements, materials, and products, the level of a fluid in a tank, the direction of rotation of a machine, etc. Color marking is used to create lines that mark the division between work areas and the movement, safety, and location of materials. The most frequent applications of colored lines are:

  • Storage location for carts with materials in the process.
  • hall direction
  • Location of security elements: taps, water valves, stretchers, etc.
  • Placement of marks to locate work tables
  • Zebra lines indicate areas where elements should not be located as they are risky areas.

Transparent endpapers

It is possible that in production equipment they can be modified to introduce transparent high-impact plastic protections, to facilitate the observation of the internal mechanisms of the equipment. These types of guards allow for maintaining control of cleaning and gaining greater knowledge about the operation of the equipment. Not all machines can be implanted with this type of guard, either due to contamination from the process, safety restrictions, or technical specifications of the equipment.

It is precisely to these transparent guards that improvements can be made to the equipment as part of the Seiton application and step two of autonomous maintenance, since improvement in the ease of worker access to the most difficult places to clean a team in depth

Color Coding.

It is used to indicate the parts, tools, connections, types of lubricants, and where they are applied. For example, the blue grease can be used to apply a special type of oil to a point on the equipment marked in blue.

Identify the contours.

Outline drawings or templates are used to indicate the placement of tools, machine parts, cleaning supplies, pens, staplers, calculators, and other office supplies. In cabinet drawers, you can build foam templates in the shape of the items that are stored. By looking and finding an empty spot on the template, you can quickly tell which element is missing.


The Seiton is a strategy that sharpens the sense of order through the marking and use of visual aids. These aids serve to standardize actions and avoid wasting time, money, and materials, and most importantly, eliminate potential risks of personal accidents.

What is sixo? Seiso – Clean

Clean job site and equipment and prevent dirt and clutter

Seiso means removing dust and dirt from all elements of a factory. From a TPM point of view, Seiso involves inspecting the equipment during the cleaning process. Leak problems, breakdowns, failures, or any type of FUGUAI are identified. This Japanese word means a defect or existing problem in the production system.

Cleanliness is closely related to the proper functioning of equipment and the ability to produce quality items. Cleaning involves not only keeping the equipment permanently aesthetically pleasing. Seiso implies higher thinking than cleaning. It requires that we carry out a creative job of identifying the sources of dirt and contamination to take root actions for its elimination, otherwise, it would be impossible to keep the work area clean and in good condition. It is about preventing dirt, dust, and filings from accumulating in the workplace.

To apply Seiso you must…

  • Integrate cleaning as part of daily work.
  • Assuming cleaning as an autonomous maintenance activity: “cleaning is inspection”
  • The distinction between process operator, cleaning operator, and maintenance technician should be abolished.
  • Cleaning work as inspection generates knowledge about the equipment. It is not a simple activity that can be delegated to less qualified people.
  • It’s not just about removing dirt. The cleaning action must be elevated to the search for the sources of contamination to eliminate its primary causes

Benefits of Seiso

  • Reduces the potential risk of accidents occurring.
  • Improves the physical and mental well-being of the worker.
  • The useful life of the equipment is increased by avoiding its deterioration due to contamination and dirt.
  • Faults can be more easily identified when the equipment is in an optimal state of cleanliness
  • Cleaning leads to a significant increase in Overall Team Effectiveness.
  • Waste of materials and energy is reduced due to the elimination of leaks and leaks.
  • The quality of the product is improved and losses due to dirt and contamination of the product and packaging are avoided.
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Seiso implantation or cleaning

The Seiso must be implemented following a series of steps that help create the habit of keeping the workplace in proper condition. The implementation process must be supported by a strong training program and supply of the necessary elements for its realization, as well as the time required for its execution.

Step 1. Cleaning campaign or day

It is very common for a company to carry out an order and cleanliness campaign as a first step to implementing the 5S. On this day, unnecessary elements are removed and the equipment, corridors, cabinets, warehouses, etc. are cleaned.

This kind of cleaning cannot be considered a fully developed Seiso, since it is a good start and preparation for the practice of permanent cleaning. This cleaning day helps to obtain a standard of how the equipment should be permanent. The Seiso actions must help us maintain the standard reached on the day of the initial session. As a motivational event, it helps to engage management and operators in the safe implementation process of 5S.

This day or campaign creates the motivation and awareness to start cleaning maintenance work and progress to higher Seiso stages.

Step 2. Plan cleaning maintenance.

The person in charge of the area must assign a content of cleaning work in the plant. If it is a large team or a complex line, it will be necessary to divide it and assign responsibilities by zone to each worker. This assignment should be recorded on a chart showing each person’s responsibility.

Step 3. Prepare the cleaning manually.

It is very useful to prepare a cleaning training manual. This manual must include, in addition to the area allocation chart, how to use the cleaning elements, detergents, soaps, air, and water; as well as the frequency and average time established for this work. Cleaning activities should include Inspection before the start of shifts, cleaning activities that take place during work, and those that take place at the end of the shift. It is important to set times for these activities so that they become a natural part of daily work.

It is common for companies that have made significant progress in the development of the “autonomous maintenance” pillar to find that these standards have been prepared by the operators because they have received special training on this skill.

The cleaning manual must include:

  • Cleaning purposes.
  • Photograph or graphic of the team indicating the allocation of areas or parts of the workshop.
  • Equipment safety map indicating the risk points that we can find during the cleaning process.
  • Photograph of the human team involved in the care of the section.
  • Necessary cleaning and safety elements.
  • Flowchart to follow.

Standards for cleaning procedures. Know the cleaning procedure to use time efficiently. The standard may contain photographs that serve as a reference for the state in which the equipment should be.

Step 4. Prepare items for cleaning.

Here we apply the Seiton to cleaning items, stored in places that are easy to find and return. The personnel must be trained on the use and use of these elements from the point of view of their safety and conservation.

Step 5. Implementation of the cleaning.

Remove dust, oil, and excess grease from the lubrication points, and ensure the cleaning of dirt from cracks in the floor, walls, drawers, machinery, windows, etc. It is necessary to remove layers of grease and dirt deposited on the guards of the equipment and rescue the colors of the paint or the equipment hidden by dust.

Seiso involves removing and thoroughly cleaning dirt, debris, dust, rust, cutting filings, sand, paint, and other foreign matter from all surfaces. We must not forget the electrical control boxes, since dust is deposited there and it is not frequent, for safety reasons, to open and observe the internal state.

During cleaning, it is necessary to collect information on difficult-to-access areas, since in the future it will be necessary to carry out kaizen or continuous improvement actions for their elimination, facilitating future routine cleaning.

We must insist that cleaning is an important event to learn from the equipment and identify through inspection the possible improvements that the equipment requires. The information must be saved in files or lists for later analysis and planning of corrective actions.

This TPM technique will be very useful to help spread improvement practices and actions to colleagues in the work area. The LUP is used to standardize actions, inform about possible security problems, basic knowledge about the use of a cleaning product, etc. With this technique, staff can be kept updated on any changes or improvements in cleaning methods.

Yellow Card Example

What is Seiketsu? Seiketsu – Standardize

Preserve high levels of organization, order, and cleanliness

Seiketsu is the methodology that allows us to maintain the achievements achieved with the application of the first three “S”. If there is no process to preserve the achievements, it is possible that the workplace will once again have unnecessary elements and the cleanliness achieved with our actions will be lost.

An operator at a consumer products company who has been practicing TPM for several years states:

Seiketsu involves developing cleaning and inspection standards to carry out permanent self-control actions. “We” must prepare standards for ourselves.” When standards are imposed, they are not met satisfactorily, compared to those that we develop thanks to a prior training process.

For decades we have known the principle written in many companies that must be followed when a work shift ends: “We will leave the workplace clean as we found it”. These types of phrases without proper training in standardization and without the space for us to carry out these standards, we will hardly be able to commit to their compliance.

Seiketsu or standardization intends…

  • Maintain the state of cleanliness achieved with the first three S
  • Teach the operator to carry out standards with the support of management and adequate training.
  • The rules must contain the necessary elements to carry out the cleaning work, time spent, security measures to take into account, and procedures to follow in case something abnormal is identified.
  • Where possible, photographs should be used of how the equipment and care areas should be maintained.
  • The use of standards should be audited to verify compliance.
  • The rules of cleaning, lubrication, and tightening are the basis of autonomous maintenance (Jishu Hozen).

Benefits of Seiketsu

  • The knowledge produced over years of work is saved.
  • The well-being of the personnel is improved by creating a habit of permanently keeping the workplace impeccable.
  • The operators learn to know the equipment in depth.
  • Cleaning errors that may lead to accidents or unnecessary occupational hazards are avoided.
  • Management is more committed to the maintenance of work areas by intervening in the approval and promotion of standards
  • The staff is prepared to assume greater responsibilities in the management of the job.
  • Intervention times are improved and plant productivity is increased.

How to implement standardized cleaning

Seiketsu is the stage of preserving what has been achieved by applying standards to the practice of the first three “S”. This fourth S is strongly related to the creation of habits to keep the workplace in perfect condition.

To implement Seiketsu the following steps are required:

Step 1. Assign jobs and responsibilities.

To maintain the conditions of the first three `s, each operator must know exactly what his responsibilities are about what he has to do and when, where, and how to do it. If people are not assigned clear tasks related to their workplaces, Seiri, Seiton, and Seiso will have little meaning.

Instructions should be given on the three `s to each person on their responsibilities and actions to be taken regarding cleaning and autonomous maintenance work. The standards can be prepared by the operators, but this requires training and kaizen practice so that cleaning times and methods are progressively improved.

The aids used to assign responsibilities are:

  • Diagram of distribution of cleaning work prepared in Seiso.
  • cleaning manual
  • Visual management board where the progress of each implanted S is recorded.
  • Kaizen work program to eliminate areas of difficult access, sources of contamination, and improvement of cleaning methods.

STEP 2. Integrate Seiri, Seiton, and Seiso actions in routine work.

The autonomous maintenance cleaning standard facilitates the follow-up of the cleaning, lubrication, and control actions of the adjustment and fixing elements. These standards provide all the information needed to get the job done. Condition maintenance should be a natural part of regular daily work.

If more information is needed, reference can be made to the cleaning manual prepared to implement Seiso. Visual control systems can help to make “links” with the standards, let’s see how it works. If a worker has to clean a difficult place on a machine, the existence of a rule to follow can be marked on the equipment with a sticker. This standard will be located on the visual management board so that it is close to the operator in case of need. Avoid keeping these standards in manuals and cabinets in the office. These kinds of one-point rules and lessons should be located on the management board and be very close to the team.

What is shitsuke? Shitsuke – Discipline

Create habits based on the previous 4’s

Shitsuke or Discipline means making a habit of using established and standardized methods for cleaning in the workplace. We will be able to obtain the benefits achieved with the first “S” for a long time if we manage to create an environment of respect for the established norms and standards.

The four previous “S” can be implemented without difficulty if Discipline is maintained in the workplace. Its application guarantees us that security will be permanent, productivity will improve progressively and the quality of the products will be excellent.

Shitsuke implies the development of a culture of self-control within the company. If the management of the company encourages each one of the members to apply the Deming Cycle in each one of the daily activities, certainly, the practice of Shitsuke would not have any difficulty. Shitsuke is the bridge between the 5S and the Kaizen concept of continuous improvement. The habits developed with the practice of the PDC cycle constitute a good model to ensure that discipline is a fundamental value in the way of doing work.

Shitsuke implies:

  • Respect for the norms and standards established to keep the workplace impeccable.
  • Carry out personal control and respect for the rules that regulate the operation of an organization.
  • Promote the habit of self-control or reflect on the level of compliance with established standards.
  • Understand the importance of respect for others and for the standards in which the worker has surely participated directly or indirectly in their elaboration.
  • Improve self-respect and respect for others.

Benefits of applying Shitsuke

  • A culture of sensitivity, respect, and care for company resources is created.
  • Discipline is a way to change habits.
  • Established standards are followed and there is greater awareness and respect among people.
  • Morale at work increases.
  • The client will feel more satisfied since the quality levels will be higher because the established procedures and standards have been fully respected.
  • The workplace will be a place where it is really attractive to arrive every day.


The practice of Shitsuke aims to achieve the habit of respecting and correctly using previously developed procedures, standards, and controls.

A worker disciplines himself to keep 5S “alive” as the benefits and advantages are significant. A company and its managers stimulate its practice since it brings significant improvements in the productivity of operating systems and management.

When it comes to 5S implementation, discipline is important because, without it, implementation of the first four 5Ss deteriorates rapidly. If the benefits of the implementation of the first four 5S have been shown, it should be natural to assume the implementation of the fifth or Shitsuke.

How to implant Shitsuke

Discipline is not visible and cannot be measured, unlike classification, Order, cleanliness, and standardization. It exists in the mind and the will of people and only behavior demonstrates its presence, however, conditions can be created that stimulate the practice of discipline.

Shared vision.

The theory of learning in organizations (Peter Senge) suggests that for the development of an organization, it is essential that there is a convergence between the vision of an organization and that of its employees. Therefore, the management of the company must consider the need to lead this convergence toward the achievement of common goals of prosperity for people, customers, and the organization. Without this identity in objectives, it will be impossible to create the space for delivery and respect for standards and good work practices.

See also  Japanese production 5S program


5S is not about ordering into a mandated document “Implant 5S” Time. It is necessary to educate and introduce through the training of “learning by doing” each of the S’s. It is not about building “posters” with phrases, slogans, and funny caricatures as a means to sensitize the worker. These internal marketing techniques will do the trick, but they sell out quickly. In some companies, it was necessary to eliminate through Seiri’s actions, the “posters and advertisements” since they were unnecessary and had lost their purpose due to habit.

Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa stated that these processes of creating a culture and good habits at work are preferably achieved by example. A maintenance mechanic cannot be asked to keep his toolbox tidy if the boss has neglected his work table, messy and with samples of screws, joints, parts, and spare parts that he is waiting to buy.

Time to apply the 5S.

The worker requires has to practice the 5S. It is frequent that time is not assigned due to production pressures and actions are stopped. This type of behavior loses credibility and the workers believe that it is not a serious program and that management’s commitment is lacking. You need management support for your efforts in terms of resources, time, support, and recognition of achievement.

The role of the Directorate

To create the conditions that promote or favor the Implementation of Shitsuke, the management has the following responsibilities:

  • Educate staff on the principles and techniques of 5S and autonomous maintenance.
  • Create a promoter or leadership team for implementation throughout the plant.
  • Allocate time for 5S practice and autonomous maintenance.
  • Provide the resources for the implementation of 5S.
  • Motivate and participate directly in the promotion of their activities.
  • Evaluate the progress and evolution of the implementation in each area of ​​the company.
  • Participate in semi-annual or annual progress audits.
  • Apply the 5S in your work.
  • Teach by example to avoid cynicism.
  • Demonstrate your commitment and that of the company for the implementation of 5S.

The Role of Workers

  • Continue learning more about 5S implementation.
  • Assume with enthusiasm the implementation of the 5S.
  • Collaborate in their dissemination of knowledge using the lessons of a point.
  • Design and respect the conservation standards of the workplace.
  • Carry out the established routine audits.
  • Ask the head of the area for the support or resources needed to implement the 5S.
  • Participate in the formulation of continuous improvement plans to eliminate problems and defects in equipment and work areas.
  • Actively participate in the promotion of 5S.

GENBA evaluation

General benefits of 5S

The implementation of a 5S strategy is important in different areas, for example, it allows for eliminating waste and, on the other hand, it allows for improving industrial safety conditions, thus benefiting the company and its employees. Some of the benefits generated by the 5S strategies are:

  • Higher levels of security that result in greater employee motivation
  • Reduction in losses and losses due to productions with defects
  • higher quality
  • Shorter response times
  • Increases the useful life of the equipment
  • Generates organizational culture
  • Brings the company closer to the implementation of total quality models and quality assurance

A company that applies the 5S:

  • Produces with fewer defects,
  • Better meet deadlines
  • It’s safer
  • It is more productive
  • Perform maintenance tasks better
  • It is more motivating for the worker,
  • Increase your growth levels….

The 5S are a good start towards total quality and they do no harm to anyone, it is up to each one to apply them and begin to see their benefits.

Paradigms that make it impossible to implement 5S

In a company, there have been and will be paradigms that make it impossible to fully develop the 5S. The 5S strategy requires a commitment from management to promote its activities, an example by supervisors, and permanent support from the heads of the work sites. The support of management with its permanent watchful eye on the performance of its collaborators, encouragement, and recognition is essential to perpetuate the improvement process. The importance that managers and supervisors give to the actions that operators must carry out will be key to creating a culture of order, discipline, and personal progress.

However, there are common paradigms for the 5S not to develop successfully in companies are:

Management paradigms

These are some of the appreciations of managers regarding the 5S program:

Paradigm 1. It is necessary to maintain the equipment without stopping.

Management, faced with the pressures of delivering manufactured products on time and in sufficient quantities, does not easily accept that a job is more productive when it is kept impeccable, safe, in order, and clean. Cleaning is considered a productive time-consuming task, but the benefits of cleaning in helping to eliminate failure cause such as dust, excess lubrication, and sources of contamination are not appreciated.

Paradigm 2. The workers do not take care of the site.

To waste time, management considers that hygiene and cleaning is an exclusive problem of the operational levels. If the collaborators do not have the resources or goals are not established to improve the methods, it will be difficult for the operator to take the initiative. Workers are sure to appreciate the benefits, as they are the ones who are directly affected by the lack of 5S.

Paradigm 3. There are numerous urgent requests to waste time cleaning

Commonly, order and cleanliness are left aside when an urgent job has to be done. Production priorities are indeed sometimes so pressing that other activities must wait, however, 5S activities must be seen as an investment to achieve all future orders and not just the specific ones required for the moment.

Paradigm 4. I think the order is appropriate, let’s not take so long…

Some people consider only the visible and aesthetic aspects of the equipment to be enough. The 5S must be used to identify deep problems in the equipment since it is the operator’s contact with the machine that makes it possible to identify faults or problems that can become serious failures for the equipment. Cleaning should be considered as the first stage in the preventive maintenance inspection of the plant.

Paradigm 5. Hire an inexperienced worker to do the cleaning… It’s cheaper!

The worker who does not know how to operate a piece of equipment and who is hired only to clean prevents knowledge about the state of the equipment from being used by the company and being lost. Daily contact with the machinery helps to prevent problems, improves the information of the expert heavy maintenance technicians, and increases the operator’s knowledge about the behavior of the processes.

Operator paradigms

The application of the 5S has its barriers in certain thoughts of the operators:

Paradigm 1. I am paid to work, not to clean.

Sometimes staff accepts dirt as an unavoidable condition of their workstation. The worker does not realize the negative effect that a dirty workplace has on his own safety, the quality of his work, and the productivity of the company.

Paradigm 2. I’ve been here for 10 years… Why should I clean?

The worker considers that he is a veteran and should not clean, as this is a task for people with less experience. On the contrary, the experience should help you better understand the negative effect of uncontrolled dirt and contamination in the workplace. Production workers sometimes assume that their job is to make things, not organize and clean them up. However, it is an attitude that has to change when workers begin to understand the importance of order and cleanliness to improve quality, productivity, and safety.

Paradigm 3. We need more space to store everything we have.

This happens when, when explaining the 5S to the workers, their first reaction to the need to improve order is to ask for more space to store the items they have. The frequent comment is “…….boss we need a new cabinet to store all this….”

It is possible that when carrying out the classification and ordering of the elements considered, on space in the current cabinets and most of the elements are unnecessary.

Paradigm 4. I don’t see the need to apply the 5s

It can be very difficult to implement 5S in companies that are very efficient or very clean, such as personal product factories or pharmacies. However, it’s not all about removing dust or contamination. The 5S helps to improve the visual control of the equipment, modify guards that do not reveal the internal mechanisms by plastic safety guards that allow the observation of the operation of the equipment; or the application of the 5S in the care of our work tables and desks…

From the 6th to the 9th S.

Related to improving yourself

6. Shikari – Constancy

A person can stay firmly in a line of action. The will to achieve a goal. There is a Japanese word konyo that in Spanish translates something similar to the integrity or state of mind necessary to continue in one direction until the goals are achieved. The constancy in an activity, a positive mind for the development of habits, and a struggle to achieve a goal. All this is Shikari.

7. Shitsukoku – Commitment

It is complying with the agreement. Conversational processes generate engagement. When the word is pledged, every effort is made to comply. It is an ethic that develops in the workplace from high personal morality. Some people manage to be disciplined and constant (5th S and 6th S). However, people may not be fully committed to the task. Shitsukoku means perseverance to achieve something, but this perseverance is born from the conviction and understanding that the goal sought is necessary, useful, and urgent for the person and the whole society.

Related to the organization

8. Seishoo – Coordination

This S has to do with the ability to carry out work with the method and take into account the other people who make up the work team. It seeks to unite efforts to achieve an established objective. It is about getting the musicians of an orchestra to achieve the best performance for the public, where the main and secondary instruments act in perfect synchronization according to an order established in the score. This must be the same work in a company. The teams must have working methods, coordination, and a plan so that nothing is left to chance or surprise. The final results will be the best for each actor at work and the company.

9. Seido – Synchronization

To keep the rhythm of the musical performance, a score must exist. At work, there must be a work plan and specific rules that indicate what each person must do. Procedures and standards will help harmonize work. Seido implies normalizing work.

Need to implement 9S

The comprehensive management model in the workplace used in Japanese companies considers the application of 9S. These are classified according to three specific purposes.

The original Japanese model considers the need to apply four additional “S” used to stimulate the individual to maintain good habits and the practical application of the 5S is a reality in the workplace.

The konyo or integrity must be a value that must inspire a worker to achieve the best of himself for his own benefit and for the society where he works.

We believe that Shikari and Shitsokoku are fundamental principles for reinforcing good personal habits that an individual should practice in the workplace.

Seishoo and Seido are habits that are related to the good integration of teams, camaraderie, companionship, and carrying out disciplined work.

These complementary 4`s unfortunately do not apply in companies and this leads to failure or deficient implementation of the initial 5`s closely related to tangible resources. The final 5`s are related to aspects of the individual’s spirit, whatever the person’s interpretation of spirituality may be.


The 5S principle can be used to break with the old existing procedures and implement a new culture to include the maintenance of order, cleanliness, hygiene, and safety as essential factors within the production process, quality, and the general objectives of the organization.

This is why the application of the 5 S’s strategy is of utmost importance, it is not a fad but a new management model or an implementation process that improves our organization.

Research resources


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