5S+1 ... The enabler

Ever considered how your 5S+1 program can impact on the following?


  • Employee attraction and retention

  • Training and development

  • Ease of employee assimilation

  • Rapid on boarding of temporary employees

  • Creating Focus and commitment to process

  • Professional linkage of management vision and execution


According to studies, within the next 5 years of those people currently working will be eligible for retirement. Add to the fact that our society does not promote careers in manufacturing having a professional work environment will become critical.


True, 5S+1 is typically the first tool adopted by organizations as part of their Lean journey, primarily because of the visual impact t can create ... But most often it is started with little or no definition, hence it just becomes a housekeeping exercise. Sometimes by luck the program morphs into a fashion of Workplace Organization.


Adopting 5S+1 can be expensive ... Not only in the cost of materials but also in the diverted labour costs within your organization. Our experience is that the evolution of current state to a world-class look can range from $6-$16 dollars per square foot. This typically does not take into consideration the cost of your employees putting down tape to mark aisles and shadow boxes. You need to plan and budget before you start your journey or enhance your existing program. We have witnessed organizations that decide to do much of the work themselves with their employees, which does create solid employee emotional attachment, but the learning curves these employees must transition through and the lack of professional outcomes result in less than stellar results.



The concern is that resources are tight and will probably become tighter as resources retire and organizations are still fearful of the economy. So finding turn-key solutions custom applied to your organization may be a better solution. This allows your employees to focus on your processes with a focus on Sustain.


Before you start your 5S+1 journey define the following;


  • Budget ... Do not go cheap ... As this will reflect the brand status of your company.

  • Define Color Codes (communication, quality, production etc.

  • Define Font type and size for your signage.

  • Ban Duct tape from your facility.


ENTERPRISE 5S+1 ... Is apply the methodology to your general areas. General signage and location indicators. Typically a good place to start Is in the break room or cafeteria. Most important, is applying it in the offices. I would tear down all of the existing signage and start

New ... Remember after 21 days folks are numb to their surroundings.


Calculate your approach and your implementation plan, this is a great enabler to enhance moral and the professional attitude within your organization.


5S+1 as an enabler for ... Employee attraction and retention. Understand that all employees like to work in a clean well organized environment ... Even if they voice something different to you. In our area their is currently a need for over 1,000 welder fitters ... I recently visited an organization where the place was a total mess and the owner complaining how he was unable to attract any good candidates. Remember a professional looking environment will attract professionals, and professionals like to be surrounded by other professionals. Not to mention that the work environment will be safer.


5S+1 as an enabler for Training and Development. Once stuff is organized and colour coded people can see flow and the mind automatically knows where items are to be located.


5S+1 as an enabler for Ease of employee assimilation. We go through a lot of plants and the most challenging part of our visit is finding our way through the facilities. However, when I go to our local hospital getting around is pretty easy ... Need an X-Ray follow the yellow lines, Ultra-Sound the blue one and Green for the cafeteria ... I do not waste my time or the time of Hospital employees by constantly having to ask questions.



5S+1 as an enabler for Rapid on boarding of temporary employees. The use of temporary employees is not about to diminish ... If anything it will probably increase. In the case of McDonalds where the average tenure is about 6 weeks ... Getting folks on board and productive is only achieved with a rigid 5S+1 program blurred into Standard work.


5S+1 as an enabler to Creating Focus and commitment to process. 5 feet of walk is 2.5 seconds, 30 inches of reach is .6 seconds ... Not much in a singular sequence but add up the repetitiveness and soon you will be counting minutes and hours. As you proceed through your sort insure that you categorize the items and where they need to be stored;


  • Runners ... Something used every day ... Access in under 30 seconds an no foot steps

  • Repeaters ... Something you use occasionally ... Access within 2 minutes of less

  • Strangers ... Something you use rarely ... Access within 15 minutes or less


Remember every time an employee gets distracted in order to retrieve an item ... It will take them a minimum of 22 minutes to re-gain focus ... That is a lot of lost productivity.



Finally 5S+1 as an enabler for providing Professional linkage of management vision and execution. Here is where many organizations begin to fail. Many employees tasked with implementing 5S+1 within the organization become extreme budget conscious to the detriment of the organization. Saving a few pennies on tape is not the real cost ... The real cost is the labour used and the learning curve required for the employees to learn a new skill. I would never expect a welder to learn how to paint aisle lines on the floor ... Since they probably would not be straight. You need to look at your organization and the type of image you wish to convey and then select your 5S+1 enablers accordingly.


For example, I never allow anyone to use tape to hang a sign within any of our facilities ... No matter what the reason ... It looks horrible. Similar with Duct tape ... Unless you are on the Red Green show it just shows that you are willing to compromise your significant investment with an unprofessional fix. Just a few weeks ago, a client was commissioning a new 6.2 million dollar line, and what did we find ... Duct tape ... Ugggh.

We do more than just blog. We're active Lean practitioners who would love to help you achieve your productivity goals.