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What's Your Approach to 5S?

I recently responded to a question about 5S on a forum. The gist was that the person wanted to know how long to expect 5S to take.

Both myself and another responder quickly mentioned that 5S takes a long, long time. He said months; I said it is never done. The point we both made was that 5S is neither quick, nor easy, despite the simplicity of the concept.

From Our 5S Training

(Learn more about our 5S module. Our 5S module includes PowerPoint training, a student guide (available from the PowerPoint product page), a DVD, and a Lean Lego exercise.)

I did, though, see something else in the question that I wanted to ask you about.

The person posting the question was clearly doing 5S as a project. I am a big advocate of not doing 5S on its own. My logic is that your continuous improvement resources are severely constrained. I have yet to encounter the organization that says, “We’ve got so little to do and so much time.” It is invariably the opposite.

So I press people to do 5S as part of improvement efforts. If you are going to make a fixed location for a wrench and mark the location, shouldn’t it be where it will best serve the process? I recommend to people that they develop a good 5S system and then lean (pun unintended) on it whenever they work to improve a process.

Doing improvement projects with 5S included is much slower than simply 5Sing a work area, but I have found that the results are better and more sustainable.

So, what do you think?

What are your thoughts on doing stand-alone 5S projects?

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