Five S philosophy teaches effective workplace organization

  • Published
  • By Col. Mike McKenna
  • Air Force Flight Test Center safety
It's a new year, and it's time to clean house. There is no better time to learn and execute the five S Philosophy. This concept originated in Japan and stems from 5 words that begin with the letter "S". As Todd Skaggs states in his article on theĀ five S Philosophy, "Essential in Lean Manufacturing is the five S Philosophy." five S simplifies your work environment, reduces waste and non-value added activity by focusing on effective workplace organization and standardized work procedures resulting in improved efficiency and safety.

The first S is sort. Eliminate unnecessary items from the workplace. Get rid of the clutter and the piles. (This will even work at home in the garage, basement and storage room).

Next is set in order. This focuses on sound, efficient storage methods and is best summarized by "a place for everything and everything in its place." Ask what you need for the job, where should it be located and how many of this item do I need?

Once we have removed the clutter and put everything in its place, it is time to make the area shine. Clean up your areas.

Next, standardize your best practices in your work area. Use those closest to the operations to participate in the development of those standards.

The last S is sustain and often the most difficult to achieve. Don't be lured back to the old way. Define the new five S standard as "the standard" and continually work to keep it so.

When you are executing the five S philosophy daily, whether at work or home, they add up to the sixth S, that is a "safer" more effective and efficient operation. Now, get your SSSSSSs together and be careful out there.