5S is an highly effective system to organize and maintain the workplace so that the work place is highly safe and productive.

This system has originated from Japan Toyota Production System and has being practiced world wide now.

The term 5S has been derived from the five Japanese words.

  • Seiri
  • Seiton
  • Seiso
  • Seiketsu
  • Shitsuke

These Japanese words are usually translated in English words as

  • Sort
  • Set in Order
  • Shine
  • Standardize
  • Sustain


Let us understand each terms in detail.

Seiri – Sort

This is the first and fore most step in implementing 5S in work place. In this step the the items work place is assessed in two categories.

  • Items that are required
  • Items that are not required.

Items that are decided as not required ones can be discarded. But there are situations which we may find it difficult to identify as required or not, in such cases the items are identified with a Red Tag having details such as date, Item description and person who has raised the tag. and the same can be kept separately in a place identified as Red tag Area.

Once the work place is free from unwanted items we may proceed to step 2

Seiton – Set in Order

Seiton is the second step in implementing 5S. In this step the items that are identified as required are kept in a orderly manner. The second step should comply with the saying ” A place for every useful thing and every useful thing in its place”

The items are grouped by types and frequency of usage. A defined place has to be identified for each of the useful items, labeled and the same has to be kept in the identified place.

This step helps us to have a defined place for each useful item and thereby saving time in searching the required items.

Once this step is meticulously completed we may proceed to Step 3

Seiso -Shine

Seiso is the third step in implementing 5S. Once the unnecessary items are removed from the workplace and arranged in an orderly manner the items are then subject to routine cleaning.

On regular usage of the products and items gets dirty, meanwhile an routine cleaning procedure will help to uplift the place. Cleaning does not mean a basic cleaning it also implies on the fact Cleaning with meaning.

A time schedule for cleaning and adherence to the schedule to it will help to maintain the things clean in their place.

As the workplace is free from unwanted items, organized and cleaned we may proceed to the next step.

Seiketsu -Standardize

Seiketsu is the fourth step in implementing 5S. After completing the first three steps the work place looks very neat and clean as unwanted items are removed, wanted items are organized and cleaned. However the work place will continue to remain orderly and clean only if the first three steps are documented and standardized.

Standardization ensures the repetition of the first three steps by establishing procedures and schedules. This also includes the frequency and the person responsible.

Shitsuke – Sustain

After the workplace is brought to a good shape by implementing the first 3S and Standardizing the same it requires high level of discipline among the workmen to sustain the improvements done on a long term.

The main objective of this step is to ensure the standards are  followed by everyone. This is achieved by continuous training and ensuring the followup by frequent audits.

Benefits of Implementing 5S

Implementing 5S results in four key benefits

  1. Improves Safety in the workplace
  2. Increases Productivity
  3. Reduces wastage of resources
  4. Reduces wastage of Time
  5. Improves Morale of the workmen.


Recommended books to read on 5S:


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