5S Methodology

To the extent that the organization represents the means that it allows the people who collaborate in it to achieve its individual goals, it is a factor that has a representative impact on the behavior of the organization’s collaborators. In parallel with the behaviour, performance is also closely linked to working conditions, so that organizational objectives, as a result of the summary of individual efforts, are within reach of an efficient and productive environment.

What are 5S?

The 5S methodology was created at Toyota in the 1960s and groups together a series of activities that are carried out with the aim of creating working conditions that allow the execution of work in an organized, orderly and clean way. These conditions are created through strengthening good habits of behavior and social interaction, creating an efficient and productive working environment.

The 5S methodology is of Japanese origin, and is so named since the first letter of the name of each of its stages is the letter ese(s).

Specific objectives of the 5S methodology

  • Improve and maintain organizational, order and clean conditions in the workplace.
  • Through a neat and clean working environment, safety, motivational and efficiency conditions are created.
  • Eliminate waste or waste from your organization.
  • Improve the quality of the organization.

Principles of the 5S methodology

This methodology consists of five fundamental principles:

  1. Classification or Organization: Seiri
  2. Order: Seiton
  3. Cleaning: Seiso
  4. Standardization: Seiketsu
  5. Discipline: Shitsuke

1. Classification or Organization (Seiri)

Classify consists of:

  • Identify the nature of each element: Separate what really serves what you don’t; identify what is necessary of the unnecessary, whether tools, equipment, tools or information.

The tools to use are:

The most commonly used tool for classification is the check sheet, in which we can consider the nature of each element, and whether it is necessary or not.

The advantages of classifying are:

Once this principle is met, the following benefits will be obtained:

  • You get extra space
  • Excess obsolete tools and objects are removed
  • Unnecessary movements are decreased
  • Excessive time in inventories is eliminated
  • Waste is removed

2. Order (Seiton)

Sorting consists of:

  • Have an appropriate site for each element that has been considered necessary.
  • Have properly identified sites to locate infrequently used items.
  • Use visual identification, in such a way as to allow people outside the area to make a correct arrangement.
  • Identify the degree of usefulness of each element, to make a arrangement that decreases unnecessary movements:
Frequency of useDisposal
He uses it at all times.Keep it handy, use straps or ribbons that join the object to the person
He uses it several times a dayHaving the person close
He uses it every day, not at all times.Have it on the workbench or near the machine
He uses it every week.
He uses it once a monthPlace it near the workplace
He uses it less than once a month, possibly once every two or three monthsPlace it in the warehouse, perfectly located
  • Determine the exact amount of each item.
  • Create convenient means for each item to return to its place of disposition once used.

The tools to use are:

The advantages of ordering are:

  • Search times are reduced
  • Change times are reduced
  • Unsafe conditions are removed
  • Less space is taken up
  • Disruptions are avoided in the process

3. Cleaning (Seiso)

Cleaning consists of:

  • Integrating cleanliness as part of the job
  • Take on cleanliness as a self-contained, routine maintenance activity
  • Eliminate the difference between process operator and cleaning operator
  • Eliminate sources of contamination, not just dirt

The tools to use are:

The advantages of cleaning are:

  • Keeping a workplace clean increases employee motivation
  • Cleanliness increases knowledge about equipment
  • Increases tool and equipment life
  • Increases process quality
  • Improves the customer’s perception of processes and product

4. Standardization (Seiketsu)

Standardizing consists of:

  • Maintain the degree of organization, order and cleanliness achieved with the first three phases; through signage, manuals, procedures and support rules.
  • Instruct employees in the design of supporting standards.
  • Use visual evidence about how areas, equipment, and tools should be maintained.
  • Use molds or templates to preserve order.

The tools to use are:

5. Discipline (Shitsuke)

Discipline consists of:

  • Establish a culture of respect for established standards, and for achievements in organization, order and cleanliness
  • Promote the habit of self-control about the remaining principles of the methodology
  • Promoting the philosophy that everything can be done better
  • Learning by doing
  • Teaching by example
  • Make the results of the 5S methodology visible

Tools to use:

  • 5S check sheet
  • Round of 5S

Advantages of discipline:

  • The habit of organization, order and cleanliness is created through continuous training and disciplined execution of the rules.

Paradigms that oppose the development of the 5S methodology


  • The individual goals of the collaborators have nothing to do with the organizational objectives.
  • Workers don’t take care of their work area, so you can waste time on that.
  • The equipment must not stop, here the important thing is to produce, not to clean.
  • It’s cheaper to hire someone to clean up


  • I get paid to work, not to clean up.
  • Why clean up, if everything gets dirty again.
  • I’ve been in the company a long time, I’ve always worked the same, I don’t see why clean now.
  • What we need is more space to store.

Trends: The 9S

The 9S methodology is a slightly more complex and comprehensive trend, containing the traditional 5S and adding 4S that relate to the personal growth of individuals. Thus it is composed of the following principles:

  • Operational phases: Organization, order and cleanliness
  • Standardization phases: Standardization
  • Continuous improvement phases: Discipline
  • Personal improvement phases: Consistency, commitment, coordination and synchronization

It is common in practice to develop a methodology of 9S in two stages, the first that instructs employees in the traditional 5S and the second that instructs collaborators in the disciplines of coordination, commitment, constancy and synchronization, through the principles of effective management, through a program of management skills.

5S Methodology
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