Creative Safety Supply

The Final 5S Phase: Sustain

2 min read

5S SustainOnce you implement the 5S model in your place of business, you will see the improvements very quickly. By the time you reach the fifth and final phase, your space should be cleaned and organized and standardized procedures should be developed. But the key to key to long term success is simple – diligence. You need to sustain these results and your progress in order to have a successful 5S program.

Here are some great techniques to keep your staff motivated:

Assign the time to do it.

Give your staff the time to do the steps correctly. For example, designate the fifteen minutes before lunch and shift end as Shine time. During this time, their main focus could be cleaning and organizing according to their checklists.

Start from the top.

Your whole organization must be on board if 5S is going to work in the long run. If your employees see that management is not following the steps, do you think that they will continue to do it?

Create a reward system.

Have friendly competitions between departments each month and reward the winner. Buy them lunch, let them go early one day, or give them priority parking. It doesn’t have to break the bank; you just want to show them your appreciation for a job well done.

Get everyone involved.

Form a committee made up of employees and supervisors of different departments. Their job will be to oversee the implementation of 5S for a fixed period, maybe six months, and then you can rotate in new members. Listen to employee feedback and take their suggestions into serious consideration.

Let them see it.

Posters, banners and newsletters can be a constant reminder of the importance of 5S. Consider posting pictures of the space right after the third step, Shine. This will serve as an example of how it should look at the end of each work day.

Train new employees.

When a worker joins your 5S organization, have current employees carry out their training on the system. This will not only ensure your efforts will be carried over to new workers, but it gives existing employees the opportunity to evaluate their own knowledge and ask questions.

A common concern with this methodology is that the new 5S efforts won’t have the intended results. It’s important to not be discouraged If the 5S audits are coming back and they’re not stellar. This is a problem many organizations face, but a problem that can be fixed. Most issues can be traced back to three contributing factors: inadequate employee training, lack of time, or lack of requested feedback. If you are unsatisfied with your 5S program, evaluate each of these areas and identify where you can make improvements.

Kaizen Case Study: Siemens Oostkamp

2 min read

Siemens Oostkamp produces electronic components such as relays, connectors, and coils. The combination of fewer orders from their parent company and increasingly intense global competition forced them to look for new markets.

On his first tour of the plant, the kaizen consultant asked the supervisors if specific information was available, such as failure rate or setup times, and the answer was always, “It’s in the computer.” But when asked to retrieve it, no one ever could. The first task was to get the management to understand the need to collect data and make this information visible and accessible. Without this data, there is no way to know where to start.

kaizen case studyThe management at Siemens Oostkamp overcame initial resistance to change with their hands-on approach. They knew that their place was in Gemba and continuously motivated their workers to collect data and review their work.

Within a few months, they had enough data to know where to start. To put the kaizen activities in motion, self-managed work teams were formed in which the goals of kaizen were carried out with methods that the teams developed themselves.

With each employee a part of a team, they became more conscious of problems on the line and were able to solve the problems themselves. With this new clarity, they suggested and implemented small, incremental changes. And using the newly collected data, they assigned themselves specific goals to shoot for.

5S, visual management, and just-in-time were the main kaizen tools utilized by the teams to achieve their goals. In areas where 5S was implemented, the machines and floors were spotless, and the machine layouts were changed for a more efficient process ow.

Visual management was evident everywhere. Large charts were displayed that showed plant goals with numerical data and trend charts for each item. Tools had specific, clearly marked homes, and floors were marked showing designated areas for supply carts and finished products.

The just-in-time model revealed that changeover times at the molding department were taking too long. They instituted a new procedure that minimized the batch size and the number of boxes of work-in-process, thus decreasing the changeover times.

So, did kaizen help Siemens Oostkamp?

→ They were able to reduce the cost of inventory by 30%. Lead time for their brake coils went from 12 days to half a day.

→ Before kaizen, they kept a three month inventory of cable connectors; this is no longer necessary because the lead time has been reduced to three hours.

→ The number of product types has been reduced by 33%. Storage area was reduced by 10%.

→ The employees are now problem solvers. When a defective product was found, it used to take days to find the problem. Now they can see it right away and make adjustments.

Those are the tangible results. What the numbers don’t show is a happier, more fulfilled staff that enjoys coming to work. That translates to fewer sick days, less employee turnover, and better safety. That’s a success by anyone’s standards.

The 5 Ingredients to Sustaining 5S

3 min read

Implementing a 5S program in a facility takes a lot of hard work and dedication. In most cases, however, companies are willing to put in that effort in order to get the great results they desire. A facility will have buy in from upper management who are willing to provide the financial backing and other support necessary to really get the 5S program off the ground. Once 5S has been implemented, however, the passions often begin to cool and it can become difficult to sustain the benefits that were realized, and push forward for ongoing improvements.

Since one of the S’s in 5S is sustainability, it is important to look at how to sustain the program as a whole. The following 5 ingredients can help ensure your 5S program not only enjoys a successful launch, but also has ongoing success for years to come.


It can be tempting to keep pushing for large and complex changes that might have dramatic results for the facility, but that isn’t always a good idea. These types of major changes do have a place from time to time, but for true sustainability, you’ll want to make sure you’re focusing on steady momentum, which is done by focusing on simple projects.

The vast majority of improvements a facility can enjoy will be simple to find and implement, so don’t make the mistake of overcomplicating things. If, for example, someone presents an idea on how to eliminate a small amount of waste from their one department, implement it as quickly as possible so everyone can see that simple solutions are appreciated and implemented.

Measure Success

One of the best things you can do to ensure a 5S program remains in place is to get it put on people’s performance evaluations. Even when people think there is value to something at work, they will often neglect it if it is not something that they are measured on for their annual review.

Implementing this type of measurement should be done right from the start, so that the upper management is taking action while they are in the early phases and are focused on the new 5S system. Putting it off until after the launch will give them time to lose interest, which could cause problems down the road.


Celebrate Successes

When it comes to eliminating waste in a facility, it doesn’t matter how big or small the elimination is, it should be seen as a major victory. Sometimes it is the smallest changes that can have the largest long term results, so make sure you’re celebrating success at every level. Recognizing the people who contributed to a particular change or improvement, for example, will not only make those individuals feel appreciated, but will also motivate others to take action for improvement as well.

Ongoing Training

While most facilities do a good job of explaining the benefits of 5S and how it works at the beginning, they often end all training after the initial implementation. This can cause a number of difficult problems. To start with, any new employees will be coming in to the situation without knowing what 5S is, or how it is being used in the facility. In addition, even those who were properly trained at first will fall back into bad habits over time if they aren’t constantly reminded of why 5S is important to the facility.

Regular Reviews

Finally, you need to review your progress regularly to ensure you’re not losing momentum. Finding out where improvements were made, and how they were accomplished on a weekly or monthly basis, for example, will help keep the progress going. This type of information should be shared with everyone in the facility, especially management, to help keep them informed of the importance of the 5S program.

Standardized Audits

2 min read

Once you’ve got a great 5S program in place at your facility it might be tempting to sit back a little and watch the results. This is, however, a mistake that far too many facilities make.

In order to keep the 5S standards you’ve fought for producing the results you need, it is essential to sustain the momentum. The best way to do this is to perform 5S standardization audits. These audits will not only find areas where the policies are not being followed properly, but it will also show everyone in the facility that these strategies are being taken seriously and need to be followed at all times.

Audits should be implemented as part of the overall 5S strategy because they will help avoid many problems down the road. When they are put in place during or shortly after 5S event, they will seem like just part of the standard operating procedure. In order to have successful audits it is important to follow the following simple tips:

  • Schedule the Audits – Make sure audits are scheduled out so you don’t keep putting them off. Having monthly or quarterly audits is ideal and when you put them on your calendar ahead of time, you are less likely to put them off.
  • Surprise Audits – Everyone should know that there will be regular audits, but they shouldn’t know the exact date or time. This is the best way to keep everyone following the concepts and strategies of the 5S system at all times.
  • Public Results – Make sure everyone can review the results of the audit. This will let them make changes to improve and also help to use positive reinforcement to the areas which are performing well.
  • Multiple Departments – Include multiple departments in each audit and include the teams in the audits. This will help ensure the same standards are being followed and it will also help to get outside perspectives.
  • Use Audits to Learn – It is often possible to learn of new and improved ways of doing things during audits. Take the data you gather and review to see where further improvements could be made.

Free Kaizen GuideAudits should be done in a way which not only gets the data you need, but also helps everyone stay focused. It is almost impossible to have the individuals and departments being audited see it as a positive thing, but over time they should get comfortable with the fact that it is not a witch hunt, and it really is done to help benefit the facility as a whole.

When possible, focus on the positive side of the audit results so everyone can see that it is not simply a way to get people in trouble, but a way to help preserve the hard fought benefits of the 5S standards which have been put in place.