Harish was reading the archives and asked a question:
Traditionally (Hirano or Ohno’s Work Place Management) 5S is in a specific order – Sort, Set (Straighten), Shine (Spic & Span), Standardize and Sustain (if needed). I have seen a few books and even a DVD (5S Garage) where the order was altered to Sort, Shine, Set, Standardize and Sustain. Any comments on this? Which makes more sense? Why would people alter the order and still call it 5S instead of My Version of 5S?
If you are new to 5S there are a few articles on 5S here offering tips and explanations. There are several questions here in fact:
Which sequence makes more sense for doing 5S?
The genesis of 5S was simply “seiri seiton” or “clean and tidy” if you like. These banners can still be seen in many Japanese factories. This is 2S: sort and straighten. Sorting (S1) comes before straightening (S2) because it would be a waste to neatly arrange and organize items first, and then throw out those items you don’t need (sorting). First you throw out what you don’t need, and then tidy what remains.
The 3rd S is typically sweeping or cleaning, some may call it scrubbing. Because you are removing grime and filth, it makes sense to do this 3rd, only after you have sorted or removed things you don’t need from the workplace. It would be a waste to do S3 before S1 and wipe clean something that you do not need and will throw out.
The 4th S is originally sanitize or spic & span, meaning cleanliness and hygiene. Many call this standardize today. Standardization is important but is not part of the original 5S. Whether you standardize or sanitize, it only makes sense to do this after a good scrubbing has taken place during S3.
Some stop at 4S and say that the 5th S of sustain or self-discipline is implied. Some say the 5th S is most important and that without it the rest of 5S does not work. Self-discipline an sustain are not really activities that one can do as part of 5S, they are habits or perpetuation of the other 4S so both ways of looking at it are correct. 5S is not “done” but it is ongoing, so as long as you are doing it the 5th S is implied. In cultures or workplaces where the idea of discipline needs to be made an explicit expectation, perhaps it ought to be included.
Many add the 6th S of safety. Safety deserves its own focus and should certainly not come at the end of the 5S. Safety first, so if anything it is the first S or the on S that must be built into all other 4S or 5S.
Why would people alter the order of the 5S?
It could be a misunderstanding of meaning of the word, or of the intent of the activity.
Arguably, the first 3S words all broadly mean “clean up and tidy up” so as meaning is lost in translation or choice of words people are tempted to shuffle them around as makes sense to them.
Last month when in Japan a retired Toyota executive advised our study mission group that companies starting out in lean should focus on the S1 and S3 only – just get rid of what you don’t need and make the place spotless. Get the basics right, don’t get fancy. Most of us can’t do 5S properly but we never stop to say “then I’ll just do 1S really well.”
Why don’t people call it something other than 5S if they change the order?
Some do. A furniture company we work with call it 3S. Toyota calls it 4S in many places. A white goods company we work with call it 6S.
It is ironic though that people who include STANDARDIZE as part of the 5S would choose to rearrange the sequence of doing 5S…