"5S" or "Lean 5S" is a method to promote a safer, cleaner, and better-organised workplace - often a factory, but the 5S method can be applied to almost any work environment:
Office space – desks, cupboards etc
Computer or server rooms, including online files and folders as well as physical objects
Work bench areas
Warehouses, storage sheds and outdoor storage areas
"5S" uses five words (from Japanese translations)
"Set in Order"
"Sustain" (sometimes "Sustained Discipline")
If an area can become messy, cluttered, disorganised, hazardous or dirty - 5S can improve it.
The 5S method is not a one-shot cleaning campaign. 5S leads to a new quality standard which results in sustained improvements. As well, 5S provides the methodology and discipline to live up to the new standards. 5S should spell the end to one-time cleanups and is a part of, and often the first step in Lean Manufacturing implementation.
It is possible to start a 5S program in just one department or area. This allows management to fine-tune the approach and adapt it to the specific workplace. Running a pilot project also permits a group of employees to learn what to do and how to do it. For example, suppose a factory has a centralised team for equipment maintenance, but separate workers for various processes. The maintenance team will be involved everywhere. They might be overwhelmed by an initial factory-wide project, but do well in one area at a time. Also, once they learn from the pilot project they will bring their new expertise to each new area.