5S System Improves Workplace Organization & Productivity

January 20, 2020

by Dean Simmons

In a manufacturing production environment, having an organized and orderly workplace leads to better flow and greater efficiency and often allows workers to produce more at a sustained rate.

5S is a method designed to create such an environment, leading to better control, productivity and safety, in a clean and orderly work area that exposes waste and errors. Waste is defined as any activity that takes time, resources, or… Click To Tweet

The 5S’s are action steps that begin with the letter S: Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. Key team members should weigh in to create consensus when addressing each “S” in the process.

Let’s look at each step individually:


The purpose of the Sort procedure is to review items, such as tools and equipment, which are used in production of a specific work area. Keep what is needed, add what’s missing, and remove what is not needed. Place a red tag on items not needed or in the wrong work area.

Set aside the items used every day at the work station and place the supplies you may need but don’t use regularly in a separate storage area where they are easily accessible.

Set in order

Once you have removed the unnecessary items from the workspace, it’s time to find a proper place for the necessary ones used regularly for production. In the Set in order process, you evaluate the efficiency of your current workflow. Review the steps and motions employees take to perform their work task along with the required tools and supplies.

Determine the most logical arrangement for the items you need, keeping in mind their frequency of use, ease of access and return. Safety is also a factor as well as eliminating wasted movement, reaching, and effort.

The use of visual cues is encouraged such as a map of the workspace showing where the equipment and tools are now located. From here, you can visually demonstrate the steps employees must follow to perform their assigned tasks for that specific area of production.


This step is the time to Shine which involves cleaning the work area and everything in it, eliminating all forms of contamination including dirt, debris, dust, and fluids. This is not just for the sake of housekeeping but to establish a new standard.

Also, inspect equipment to look for wear and tear that might lead to its failure during use. This should essentially be done every day along with daily cleaning to ensure the best operating condition of the tools and equipment and to replace or repair anything that needs it.


In this step, you Standardize the first three S’s in 5S by developing rules to maintain them. Rules should focus on locations of things in the workspace, position of items in the work area, amount of supplies required for the production task, cleaning schedules, and procedures to do the job.

Once you have standardized procedures within the designated work area, document them using visual mapping cues to establish standards that are easy to follow and understand. The standards help ensure that 5S becomes an essential part of daily work and enables workers to manage and control their area.


This step is where you Sustain the gains made implementing the methods of the four previous steps. The best means to make this happen is to stick to the rules and procedures. This will lead to new, daily habits that will facilitate productivity and create more consistent quality.

Familiarize employees with visual management techniques, properly train them, and ensure the leadership of the organization is committed to the program’s success.

The benefits of utilizing the 5S system are numerous, including work standardization, reduction in cycle time, decreased changeover time, better quality and greater safety. A gratifying side effect of the 5S system is that it may also improve employee morale.

For a free downloadable 5S guide, visit www.connstep.org/guide-to-5s/

CONNSTEP solved a huge problem for us and helped us bring our delivery rate to 100%. As a direct result of that, we have been awarded with an increase in business which, ultimately, will also benefit (our supplier) Har-Conn.”

CT manufacturer Pegaasus

Chris DePentima

CEO, Pegasus Manufacturing Inc.

“I see great value in the new experiences and perspectives CONNSTEP brings to our business, at reasonable prices. They’re not like consultants, they’re like partners in the business – willing to roll up their sleeves and help.”

AGRussell logo

Mark Burzynski

President, Arthur G Russell Co

“CONNSTEP has proved to be a tremendous resource for ESI. CONNSTEP has helped us to adapt to today’s marketplace and remain a quality minded, competitive global player. Our ISO/TS16949 implementation process was efficient and rewarding. I look forward to our future projects with CONNSTEP.”

esi CT manufacturer

Ron Delfini

President, Engineering Specialties Inc.

“CONNSTEP worked with FuelCell Energy to educate and facilitate Lean initiatives and to help meet our needs to establish an overall production improvement plan. This plan has been utilized over a period of time as a ‘guiding light’ to spur numerous improvements that dramatically reduced our product cost.”

Tom Lucas

Manager, Fuel Cell Energy

“CONNSTEP is a valuable partner to Hologic, providing the expertise and ‘outside eyes’ everyone needs to keep their continuous improvement on track. We are now well-positioned on a dynamic growth path and look forward to a long-term relationship with CONNSTEP.”

Greg Safarik

VP Manufacturing Operations, Hologic

“Our experience working with CONNSTEP has brought us benefits we never expected. It’s a great team to work with!”

Bruce Wheeler

VP of Operations, Metal Finishing Technologies Inc.

“The goals of the team were to reduce manufacturing lead-time, reduce floor space utilized, and increase worker productivity. All the goals were met. CONNSTEP helped us to better compete.”

Tornik CT manufacturer

Dan Rubbo

General Manager, Tornik LLC

“The Business Growth Program is working well for us. We enhanced our website following the meetings to improve our SEO and become more visible to search engines. The segment on negotiating …  promoted changes in our thinking and improved how we interact with customers. The mentoring between sessions was helpful in boosting our progress.”

CT manufacturer Colonial Spring

Bill Lathrop

President, Colonial Spring Co.

Prev Next