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Lean 5s – Implement the Foundation of Toyota Motor Corporation Success Into Your Organization

Lean 5s – Implement the Foundation of Toyota Motor Corporation Success Into Your Organization

The Japanese 5s system is an essential and powerful tool of the Toyota Production System.

The 5s concept is a simple system that your organization cannot afford not to implement. Save time, save money and avoid mistakes and defects. Whether you are interested in 5s lean manufacturing, 5s office or 5s housekeeping, you can enjoy endless rewards with 5s implementation.


GM production was 3 – 4 x the cost of production at TMC

Why? Efficiency. Adopt the tools of TMC and save yourself a whole lot of money and hardship.


5s comes from 5 words in Japanese which mean orderliness (seiri), neatness (seiton), shine (seiso), cleanliness (seiketsu) and discipline (shitsuke). In English, lean 5s:

1. Sort

2. Set in Order

3. Shine

4. Standardize

5. Sustain (maintain the discipline to continue with the process)


A good lean 5s program ensures:

  • A Better, safer working environment
  • Improved efficiency
  • Elimination of waste and unnecessary items
  • Reduced defects and machine breakdowns
  • Less stress and frustration


“Every day, our priority is 2s.” says the manager of a successful plant of a Toyota supplier in Japan. “With a good 2s (sort and set in order), we easily prevent accidents, create an efficient environment, avoid clutter, save time when locating items, and maintain employee motivation. We easily avoid unnecessary expenses and can identify waste that needs to be eliminated. Good 5s is the starting point for good kaizen.”


Now here’s a great example of why your organization needs 5s: A design engineer at a manufacturing company I was working in had some bad news. He found out that his mistake had cost the company $9,700! How did that happen? Well, his office was, as many are, disorganized. One day, he grabbed a design that was set for production. But he grabbed the wrong one. Production started and it wasn’t until a month later that the problem was uncovered. What a waste in time and money. And how embarrassing.


Let’s break each step down:


In the sorting process, you decide what items are essential to getting the job done. Everything else has got to go.


In the next step, all necessary items must be allocated a home.


In this step, all team members engage in a big clean up.


This is an essential step and an absolute necessity in order to ensure long term gains from lean 5s. A regular schedule of the previous 3s activities must be made and put into practice.


This can be the tricky part. Again, in order to ensure long lasting results, 5s activity must be on going and the standard practices followed.

In order for organizations to not only survive, but thrive and prosper, a lean mind set and strategy must be adopted. Lean 5s is one of the best and simplest tools I have seen. It just takes the know-how, effort and commitment.