What Are The 5 Ss Of Lean Production?

It’s fair to say that most of us would benefit from a philosophy that ensures our workspace is clean, tidy, and organised. This would lead to optimal working conditions and increased productivity. What’s not to like?

This is the basis of the ‘5 Ss’ in production. They’re designed to improve business procedures but can also improve the working environment for every member of the team, leading to improved wellbeing for workers.  The 5 Ss originate from five Japanese words. However, if Japanese isn’t your first language, you’ll be glad to see that they’re usually translated into English when discussed in this industry.

Let’s take a closer look.




Take a look at all the items and materials in your area, and question whether you need them or whether they’re simply wasting space. This requires some seriously honest assessment. Remove whatever isn’t needed to free up space. A great way to complete this sorting task is by using stickers or post-it notes to label anything that isn’t essential. After the process is complete, any item with a sticker on it can be recycled or thrown out.

By making space, you’ll also be able to get rid of unwanted or broken equipment or materials that are cluttering your daily routine.



Set in order

Once you’ve removed the items that you no longer need within your workspace, it’s time to organise the objects that you have left. Think of how to organise them in a practical way so that what you need is easily accessible. Ensure that all drawers or cabinets are labelled to find things easily, and worktables are clear and tidy. Oh, and while you’re doing this, keeping asking that same question: do you really need whatever it is that’s still cluttering your immediate area?




After everything has been organised and put away, you’ll find yourself with a far clearer surface and space in which to work. These surfaces may have previously been hidden or covered by all that stuff, so it’s important to give them a good clean and shine – you might be surprised by how dirty or unkempt each surface is (and that’s no good for productivity, either).

While a big clean is required during this process, to keep your new way of working as ship-shape as possible, it’s important to complete smaller clear up operations regularly to sustain this new way of working. There are other benefits to be had, too. For instance, a clean and clear workspace will also help you identify any issues with equipment more easily.



To keep this positive change over time, it’s important to try and create a set of rules or standards that can be used by your entire team. By having everyone on board with the 5 Ss, the new way of working will become effective and woven into the fabric of the team culture. As a result, it’ll benefit everyone involved. Using checklists and reminders is a great way to remind your team of what needs to be done.


The final S in this system stands for ‘sustain’. The reason is simple. For the 5 Ss to be effective, you need to sustain and continue the process over time. If your workspace changes or the business grows, the standards and procedures may need to adapt to take this into consideration. Over time, standards can slip as team members inadvertently fall back into old habits. Making a concerted effort to create a ‘new normal’ and sustain the effort you put in at the start will ensure this doesn’t happen.  To remind everyone of the 5 Ss system and its importance, consider using visual aids around the workplace, as well as regular reminders within internal communications. 

The 5 Ss technique is a great way to rethink how you use your workspace and its overall purpose. Following this method has many advantages, including improved safety, higher productivity levels, better team morale, and improved equipment availability. So why not try it out today?



If we’ve raised any questions in your mind about this form of lean production, just get in touch with us today.

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