Standardize: The Fourth Step in the 5S Methodology

5s standardize

Standardize is the fourth step in the 5S methodology. It relates to the standardization of the first three processes in the 5S system – Sort, Set in Order, and Shine. Here is a closer look at the Standardize distinction.


Standardize is derived from the Japanese word Seiketsu (清潔). The purpose of the Standardize step is to obtain the benefit of practicing Seiri (Sort), Seiton (Set in order), and Seiso (Shine) continuously. 

In the 5S methodology, Standardize is the process of implementing the first three steps across all departments of an organization or business. And then, conform to a standard that is consistent throughout. 

Like the first three steps, standardization is an ongoing process that requires the involvement of all employees to be successful. One way to encourage employee involvement is to create a 5S committee to manage and support the system. The committee should consist of leaders from different work areas so that all parts of the company are well represented. 


The 5S committee should start by meeting to discuss standardization processes. Working together, 5S leaders and other employees should establish an initial list of company-wide standards. Managers from different work areas should then have the chance to review and approve the suggestions. Once they are approved, the processes should be applied to the workplace. 

New processes must be shared with employees and posted in designated areas around the facility. A great way to communicate these changes is through visuals, such as signage or color-coding. 

Visuals convey information quickly and make it easier for employees to familiarize themselves with new standards and practices. However, employee training should also be provided on any changes to the current system.

Finally, the standards must be maintained, evaluated regularly, and kept up-to-date. Be sure to schedule meetings with all stakeholders to review the system. It is essential to pay attention to redundancies and eliminate unnecessary processes. Additionally, because the Standardize step is an application of the first three steps in the 5S system, each step should also be evaluated individually. This provides a full understanding of standardization needs. 


Here are some benefits of the Standardize process from the 5S methodology:

  • Consistency across all branches of the operation. 
  • Minimizes guesswork. When there is consistency, companies know what to expect and are more prepared to handle problems as they arise. 
  • Ensures that the company continuously reaps the benefits of sorting, order, and cleanliness.
  • Improvement in Morale. Employee input is always considered in all processes of the 5S system. This process demonstrates that the company values and respects worker opinions. 
  • Encourages accountability. Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. Employees are well-trained and understand what is expected of them. 


Standardization encourages consistency, but consistency does not mean all processes should be the same. In the 5S system, processes are designed to improve productivity and efficiency. If the system is adapted to achieve these goals, then the standards should be adjusted as well. Standarize is never a static process. It must be flexible and evolve accordingly. 


The fifth step in the 5S methodology is Sustain. What’s happening on this websiteJACOB in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania bought Manual Pallet Jack Replacement Wheels about 5 hours ago Open related page


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Shine: The Third Step in the 5S Methodology

5s shine

Shine is the third and often undervalued step in the 5S methodology. It relates to cleanliness and the absence of unnecessary dirt and debris.  Shine is a crucial part of Lean Management. Here is a look at how to implement the distinction in the workplace.


Shine is derived from the Japanese word Seiso (清掃). All materials, including equipment, tools and supplies, and work-related objects, should be examined and cleaned in this third step. 

Shine is the process of cleaning and maintaining all aspects of the work environment. The work environment should be free of dirt, debris, and other types of contaminants. Reducing or eliminating mess ensures that the work environment is as safe as possible. It allows for machinery and workers to operate productively and efficiently. 

Implementing Shine in the workplace is more than merely sweeping up dirt or mopping up a spill. It is an ongoing process that requires the foresight and vigilance of all staff. Employees need to understand what to clean, how to clean it, and how often. It is the natural progression that follows Sort, the removal of unnecessary items, and Set in order, the careful organization of the items that are necessary.

As with Sort and Set in order, Shine needs to be performed by the staff that works in the area. If the workers that create the mess are also responsible for cleaning up, the associates will start to show a different appreciation for the workplace. After all, we spend at least a third of our lives at work, why wouldn’t we want to work in an uncluttered, organized and clean environment?


To begin, identify and assess the work area. Define what the area looks like in its clean state and document it for comparison. Taking pictures is an excellent way to do this. It establishes a standard and makes it easier to notice when something has changed. 

Next, determine what messes are likely to happen and how to prevent them or react if they do happen. Equip work areas so that handling messes is simple. They should be fully stocked with appropriate cleaning supplies to clean them up. 

Train employees so they understand expectations around cleaning. Establish cleaning duties and define roles. Both checklists and schedules can support this. Checklists should be easy to follow and written so essential steps are clear. Schedules help identify what needs to be cleaned, when, how often, and by whom. These assign clear roles for employees and establish a productive cleaning routine. 

Establish the cleaning routine, then maintain and evaluated it. Employees need to understand what is working, what is not, and what can be done to improve the system. The cleaning system can then be adjusted accordingly. 

Employees who are responsible for shining their workplace take responsibility for not messing it up in the first place. If the schedule rotates through all employees, everyone is vigilant to ensure they are not creating unnecessary work for their colleagues to clean up. Their colleagues, it is hoped, will do the same for them.


Here are some benefits of the Shine process from the 5S methodology:

  • Improve safety. 
  • Reduce risks, injury, and worker compensation costs. 
  • Diagnose cleanliness issues proactively. 
  • Increase worker productivity by ensuring that there are no obstacles to efficient work processes.
  • Reduce manufacturing and maintenance costs. Regular cleaning keeps machines in working order, so they do not need to be fixed or replaced as frequently. 
  • Limit exposure to potential health hazards. 
  • Eliminate unnecessary clutter and waste, which frees up space for other work-related use. 
  • Creates accountability for the cleanliness of the workplace and ensures a 5S culture among the team members.


The Shine step is an active process. Clean workspaces so that a mess doesn’t become a burden. The Shine step in 5S is designed as a preventative measure that is both active and anticipatory and not reactive. 

Regardless of the job, a messy workspace causes unnecessary stress. It is distracting; it can be unhealthy and can affect productivity and efficiency. So employees must be diligent when performing and evaluating the Shine step to ensure that a workspace is clean and well maintained. 


Read about Standardize: The fourth step in the 5S methodology 


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Set: The Second Step in the 5S Methodology

5S set in place

Set, Set in Place, or Set in Order, is the second step in the 5S methodology. It relates to orderliness, sequence, and placement of objects in a logical position.  Here is a deeper dive into this second 5S distinction.


Set in Order is derived from Seiton (整頓), which means “proper arrangement”. All materials, including equipment, tools and supplies, and as well as all work-related objects should be placed at optimal locations for ease of access by workers in a production environment. 

The objective in the Set in Order step is to be able to lay your hands on any given item, required for work or production, quickly and with ease. Everything should be stored for convenient access. 


In a workspace, everything has a place and everything is in its place with a designation and an indication. What this means is, if you have already completed the Sort process, where you have eliminated the items that are surplus and not needed, then what is left over is only the necessary items for the work at hand. Each necessary item will, therefore, be given a place, designated by a shadow, a cut-out or a taped off area that is roughly the same size as the object you are storing. Next to the designated area, there will be an indication. such as a label, that will the person working there where the item goes.


Store tools and materials where they will be used and not far away from the workers that will be using them. The more often an object is used, the closer it should be placed to where it will be used. Conversely rarely used tools and materials should be positioned or stored further away from the work environment. This reduces clutter and increases ease of movement for the most frequent tasks. 

Create ease of access. The path to an object should be unobstructed and logical. Eliminate the need for a worker to bend, stretch, overextend or overexert themselves unnecessarily to retrieve an item. 

If an object is heavy, it should be placed where a worker will not need to twist, maneuver or change direction when handling it. Pathways should also be straight, smooth easy to navigate and clear.


Define three zones for storage: 

  • FREQUENTLY USED: Put the frequently-used tools and materials right on or at the workbench and ensure they are easy to reach and highly visible (lighting is important here). They should also be easy to return to their spot when no longer needed.
  • DAILY OR MONTHLY USAGE: Tools and materials that are only needed on occasion like daily, weekly or monthly can be kept in a location nearby, but not in the way. Racks are useful for this strategy, where tools are well labeled. Storage cabinets can also be used, but they should be visible from a workstation in a production environment.
  • RARELY USED: Store rarely used tools, parts, and materials away from the shop floor, perhaps in a well-organized storeroom. Use racks and cabinets with clear labels.


When evaluating the placement of tools and materials consider the production sequence. This will suggest where the logical position should be for any given tool or item. Frequency of use can dictate proximity. Bulk and shape will also suggest proximity. A hand tool should be stored above the worker’s waist. A large tool or object can be mounted or placed nearby if used frequently. There should be an easy interplay when a worker switches from one object to another for a task at hand or a sequenced task. All this will lend itself to the logical and efficient placement of items used.  


When the Set step in the 5S methodology is done well, it will result in an organized workflow. Time is reduced in production. Tasks flow into each other. Flow is the objective. What comes out of this process is a new sense of efficiency and ease in which work can be completed. It also reduces stress for workers, provides for a safer workplace, and produces maximum efficiency


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Sort: The First Step in the 5S Methodology

5S sort

Sort is the first, and most important step in the 5S methodology. Sort relates to tidiness and the absence of clutter. Here is a deeper dive into the distinction:


Sort is derived from the Japanese word Seiri (整理). All materials, including equipment, tools and supplies, and work-related objects, should be examined in this process. 

Sort is the word used to define the step where unnecessary objects are removed. This step reduces clutter and makes the work environment tidy so that it is easy to find resources that are needed to do the work at hand.

When you enter this first phase of the 5S process, all there is to do is to step onto your shop floor or production environment and look at it with new eyes. Ask: What is obvious in the way of an efficient process? You can spot the most obvious clutter immediately. Look for empty boxes, bins of rejected parts, and even obsolete machinery or tools.

Run your eyes over every surface. Is there junk cluttering up the floor or raised workbenches or desks? Look at shelves. Look in closets and storage bins. Are there unorganized materials stacked around in various places that you don’t want to throw away?  Do they need to be there? How long have they been there? 

Get rid of all the junk. Beyond the obvious clutter, go through the whole shop and dispose of the materials that are never used. Put them in a dumpster, sell them, give them away and recycle where possible. 

Now examine what tools and materials are critical to performing production. Dispose of items that haven’t been touched in months or years.


There are three categories for every item in your work area: I need itI don’t need it, and I don’t know. For items that you need, you move them on to the next step, Set in Order. Recycle, sell or give to charity unneeded items. For things you are not sure about, you put an appropriate expiration date on each item and then check once the expiration date has passed to see if it is useful or not. In this way, you Sort your workspace, and then you follow up again on a later date for things you are unsure about.


Here are some benefits of the Sort process from the 5S methodology:

  • Free up production space.
  • Create new or reconfigured space for new or reimagined business processes.
  • Scrap or unused tools, in some cases, have residual value, so sell them or give them away where appropriate. 
  • Freeing up space will reduce the need to expand and optimize the use of existing space.
  • Time will be reduced when doing your next inventory or audit.
  • You will save time when seeking an item that is actually needed.
  • Time will also be saved when moving objects, goods, and products through the work environment because less clutter means easier and safer navigation because there are fewer objects on a path to an objective.


Too many workplaces are cluttered with tools, materials, and objects that are no longer needed. This does not just apply inside a factory. Apply the Sort process in the office, warehouse, distribution center, and all production environments. In these places, you may identify obsolete paperwork, books, manuals or binders. There may be filing cabinets with outdated records that should be archived offsite. You can even bring it to the staff kitchen, break room and fridge.

Even bulletin boards can be clogged with outdated notices. And don’t forget your computers. Apply the sorting process to digital spaces too. Systems will become cluttered with obsolete programs over time. Unneeded, excess or useless data accumulates. If possible, archive it. Call in your Information Technology department to tackle this.

Once complete, the Sort process can bring a new sense of space, process flow, and ease of movement, therefore, the process of Sorting is one of the most satisfying S words in the 5S methodology.

Engage in the 5S Process to Learn the Value of 5S

5S is not just for others to follow. As a leader, you must complete a 5S project first in a small area of your world to see the before and after. Following the first 2Ss (Sort and Set in Order) of the 5S process, you will be faced with difficult choices. Do I keep it or do I toss it? Does it have value? Will it have value in the future? Does it have value for others?

All of these choices are not easy to make, and therefore, going through the Sorting process, you learn to identify priorities. You must push yourself to be disciplined in your own workspace in order to become an example of efficiency for others.

Now that you have Sorted your workspace, you can stand back and ask: do I have what I need to work efficiently? Do I have ONLY what I need? Do I have anything that I might need in the future, and if yes, does it have an expiration date on it for me to reevaluate its future necessity?

Be proud of you work in Sorting your area. Show it off. Show off all the clutter you have taken out of your workspace. Say, “look at all the stuff I had getting in my way of the essential work that I perform!”


The next step in the 5S process is Set or Set in Order 


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What is 5S and How is it Used?

5s metholdology

Waste reduction methodology is a key strategy from lean management philosophy

5S is a workplace organization method originally developed by Toyota Corp. It is part of Toyota’s Lean Manufacturing methodology, which is designed to reduce waste within a facility.

The 5S method consists of a list of five Japanese words:

  1. Seiri (整理),
  2. Seiton (整頓),
  3. Seisō (清掃),
  4. Seiketsu (清潔), and
  5. Shitsuke (躾).

These can be translated as:

  1. Sort
  2. Set In Order
  3. Shine
  4. Standardize
  5. Sustain

5S can be used to eliminate waste, improve efficiency, and optimize workflow when applied to a work environment. The list of five key principles describes how to organize a workspace for efficiency and effectiveness. This is done by identifying and storing the items used, maintaining the area and items, and sustaining the new order. The decision-making process usually comes from a dialogue about standardization. This builds understanding among employees of how they should do the work.

5S Methodology Defined

The fives S’s in the system are derived from five Japanese words Seiri (tidiness), Seiton (orderliness), Seiso (cleanliness), Seiketsu (standardization), and Shitsuke (discipline). However, the translations have been substituted with five English words that start with the letter S. These are outlined as follows:

Seiri (整理), which means: Sort

This first S of the 5S methodology relates to tidiness. All materials, including equipment, tools and supplies, and work-related objects, should be neatly arranged and all unnecessary objects should be removed. This step reduces clutter and makes the work environment tidy so that it is easy to find resources that are needed to do the work at hand.

Seiton (整頓), which means: Set in order

The second S relates to orderliness. All materials, including equipment, tools and supplies, and work-related objects should be placed at optimal locations for ease of access. The objective is to be able to lay your hands on the item you need quickly and with ease. This also frees up space and eliminates clutter. It also aids in accident prevention by removing unnecessary materials that may be an obstacle in the work process.

Seiso (清掃), which means: Shine

The third S relates to cleanliness. All tools, equipment, and machinery must be cleaned regularly so that they are ready for use. The objective here is to make the work environment as safe as possible. There should be no dirt, spills, or detritus on surfaces. The work environment should be free of waste, and the spaces and places in which workers operate should promote and support productivity.

Seiketsu (清潔), which means: Standardize

The fourth S relates to standardization. The processes of sorting, order, and cleanliness should be standardized and implemented across all offices and branches of operation. The objective is for all aspects and branches of operation to consistently gain the benefits of practicing seiri, seiton, and seiso.

Shitsuke (躾) which means: Sustain or Self-discipline

The fifth S relates to discipline. The business or organization has the ability and training to continuously and consistently practice the 5S system. The adherence to the processes established will always bring new efficiencies and maintain previous gains. The objective here is to maximize potential by using the 5S system so that all obstacles to productivity are removed.

The 6th S – Safety

In some cases, an additional step is added to the method – Safety. This step focuses on ways to eliminate risks in the workplace and should be combined with the previous steps. An integral part of the 5S system is visual communication. It allows workers to independently and easily follow the system. Some examples of safety precautions include floor markings and labeling. For instance, a floor sign can indicate forklift traffic, so a worker knows to avoid the area or proceed with caution when approaching it. Some believe that safety is implied in 5S and an additional step is not necessary, but adding this step ensures that safety is a focus for every process and action taken. 

Evolution of the 5S Methodology

The implementation of 5S proved to be successful for Japanese industries. It increased output, as well as quality, and efficiency. It also reduced costs. American industries took note of this success and started applying the methods, producing similar results to the Japanese.  

5S is one of the underpinnings of the Just In Time (JIT) manufacturing process. JIT is used in many modern factories today and allows for a production line to produce only the quantity of a product that is needed at the moment. This process is throttled up or down based on real-time demand.

The 5S System is highly flexible and has been integrated with many other workplace efficiency systems and methodologies. One of the most widely used methods that have been derived from the 5S system is a process called Lean, or Lean Manufacturing. It, too, came from Japan’s JIT method.

Today, Lean is employed around the globe to bring efficiency to industrial workflows. 

5G, Lean and JIT share similar philosophical DNA. JIT and similar models are rooted in early- to mid-20th century American industry. For example, the Ford Motor Company’s assembly line and business-applied statistics had a major influence over Japan’s post-WWII industrial revolution.


Since its origins, 5S has helped companies successfully employ more complex forms of Lean Manufacturing. 5S is easy to remember and follow. It increases safety and morale, product quality, and equipment life. It also allows for valuable data collection. Additionally, it reduces injuries and production costs. It also reduces defects and downtime as well as supplier mistakes. Beyond that, the advantages are a reduction of tools and inventory searches, storage and, often, warehousing costs. 

The 5S system is a solid foundation for many industrial systems and methods, but the success of the system is ultimately reliant on the company and its employees. Managers and workers need to be properly educated and trained in the system. They need to understand how the methodology will be implemented in the workplace. This can be done by creating a committee to manage and support the system and adjust it as the need arises. 

Although responsibility may fall on a committee, it is important to encourage all employees to participate in the process. When the 5S system is properly understood and implemented by everyone, it can significantly improve efficiency in both the workplace and among workers.  


Here are some more helpful links to help you learn about the 5S Methodology: