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5Ss of the workplace

The '5Ss' of the workplace are the Japanese words: 

  • Seiri = organization : separate out all the things that are not necessary and eliminate them or tidy them away
  • Seiton = neatness : arrange the essential things in order so that they can be quickly and easily accessed and put away
  • Seiso = cleaning : keep machines and working environment clean (everyone's job--no cleaners needed)
  • Seiketsu = standardization : make cleaning and checking a routine practice; maintain a pleasant environment
  • Shitsuke = discipline : standardize the previous four steps and constantly improve them; creating good habits

In a tidy and organized workplace, errors are minimized, work is speeded up and small problems are made visible.

These have been translated (more than once) into five Ss in the English language:

  • Seiri --> sort, structurize, sort out
  • Seiton --> straighten, systematize, systematic arrangement
  • Seiso --> scrub, sanitize, spic and span
  • Seiketsu --> systematize, standardize
  • Shitsuke --> standardize, self-discipline

They also appear sometimes as the 5Cs:

  • Seiri --> Clear out
  • Seiton --> Configure
  • Seiso --> Clean / check
  • Seiketsu --> Conformity
  • Shitsuke --> Custom and practice

Let's leave the last word to Hiroyuki Hirano, author of 5S: Five Pillars of the Visual Workplace:

"A company that cannot successfully implement the 5S's cannot expect to effectively integrate JIT, re-engineering, or any other large-scale change. Good workplaces develop beginning with the 5S's. Bad workplaces fall apart beginning with the 5S's."

See also:

Lean systems

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