The 5S Method of Improvement
Enhancing Safety, Productivity and Culture

What are the 5 ‘S’s?
Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize & Sustain


What does 5S have to do with Epoxy Coatings?
In the flooring world, that means clearly marking your aisles and walkways and forklift traffic paths. It also means calling attention to danger areas, loading areas and wet areas. If employees know what to expect, you as an employer, will experience a lot less of the un-expected such as employee accidents, slips, trips and falls and other workplace maladies.

The goal of the 5S system is to sort of automate how we do things.
Look at the job of a bartender. If they are making 20 drinks every 20 minutes, doesnt it help their productivity of their supplies are in the same place so they dont have to stop and read labels each time? The same basic principal applies to your warehouse or your office or lockerroom. Eliminate wasted time and effort by applying the basic principals of automation by implementing these 5 simple rules:

Sort, Simplify, Shine, Standardize & Sustain.
1. Sort: This is pretty straight forward, get rid of unused items and group like items together in a convenient location. Separating the needed from the unneeded aims to eliminate unneeded items from the work area and to perform an initial cleaning. A chef would not store their spices in the dining room and a plant foreman shouldnt have to go hunt down needed items before loading them onto a forklift. A production manager needs items in order of use.

2. Set in Order/Simplify: Create a place for your frequently used materials so you can tell at a glance what is missing or defective and what needs to be ordered or replaced. a place for everything and everything in its place, clean and ready for use. Simplifying arranges the workplace to ensure safety and efficiency.

3. Shine: It is not enough to just throw all the like items into a pile. Just imagine a pile of 40 extention cords. It would not help productivity if you had to pay an employee 4 hours to untangle a pile of extention cords. The goal is to set a standard of cleanliness and order. In the instance of extention cords, you would roll them up and store them in a manner that makes retrieving one or thirty quick and easy. While you are at it, shine things up. A bright, clean work place promotes healthy, productive morale and projects an image of professionalism. Clean it like you mean it..or as if for an inspection which we all know happens when you least inspect it. Systematic daily cleaning and inspection of work areas and equipment help you understand current conditions and determine if corrective action is required. Imagine a commercial kitchen who fails to implement a standard system for cleaning and the health inspector shows up. What happens? They get shut down; but if the staff has a routine of daily cleaning tasks that they have been trained to do systematically then you never have to worry about getting shut down or losing production time.

4. Standardize: Lets face it, the night shift is notorious for doing things a little differently. If you are a small company that might work for you but when you are a large company handling thousands of packages every day like UPS or Fed Ex, you need a system in place where the same thing is expected from every shift. It is not enough for the day shift to organize and clean the shop if the night shift is still doing things the old way. Get the whole team on board for any new changes and implement a system for making sure everyone follows the new regime for optimal productivity.

5. Sustain: Dont fall into the habit of letting the little things go. You made a big effort to get things in order and to get all of your employees on the same page, now all you have to do is make everyone stick to the plan. In just a short period of time your facility will operate like a well oiled machine. Establish a routine check sheet for each work area. The check sheet is like a pilot’s pre-flight check list. It shows what the team should check during self-audits.
Danaher and Toyota are two of the better known examples of companies who have implemented 5S and have maintained the system for the long-haul to see long term benefits and increased productivity.

5S is a foundation for more disciplined actions. If workers cannot even put a tool back in its designated location, will they follow standards for production? Will they adhere to their 30 minute lunch break? Will they arrive on time? Automating your facility is not just about putting things in order, it is about a blanket attitude of order and precision that infiltrates everyone and everything. Its visual nature makes things tat are out of place stick out like a sore thumb. And, when properly supported, it builds a culture of continuous improvement. Like the cogs on a wheel, each cog serves a function but that function is not independent of itself. Each employee is part of a team and it is the overall production of the whole team that 5S strives to seamlessly put into motion like a fine symphony.
The Benefits of 5S are:

• Cleaner and safer work areas—when a work area is clean and organized tripping hazards and other dangers are eliminated.

• Less wasted time through more workplace organization—when tools and materials are accessible and orderly, workers need less time to “go get” and less time to search.

• Less space—when unneeded items are eliminated and the needed ones are organized, required floor space is dramatically reduced.

• Improved self-discipline—the 5S system, especially its visual nature, makes abnormal conditions noticeable and makes ignoring standards more difficult.

• Improved culture—when 5S is applied systematically, it fosters better teamwork and enthusiasm.

People like to work in a well-organized and clean environment. They feel better about themselves and better about their work, and theyhave a self-discipline that is found in winning teams. Face it, employees who are happy with their jobs are generally the ones with the best work output.

How Do You Get There?

We recommend making a chart chart as a guide for your specific job so that everyone on task knows what the goal is and how they are to achieve it.


Although 5S is not the end all, beat all advantage, it does provide a solid foundation for achieving operational excellence when used in conjunction with other business practices specific to your industry.

When your employees and management are part of the process of fine tuning your production processes they gain a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work and as a result of implementing 5S to your plant process you have also inadvertentantly boosted the production capability of your employees. Implementing a system utilizing 5S is good for the product and good for the producer and great for the bottom line.