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Using 5S to Increase Performance in the Workplace

5S requires a top-down commitment from senior management to the operator level. Without this any 5S program is doomed from the outset. Also there needs to be an infrastructure such as QCDSM in place for sustainability and continuous improvement (time and resources, ideas scheme etc.) to ensure the programs meets your goals and expectations.

5S must be properly understood by everyone in the organization. It is not simply a clean up exercise and if it is portrayed that way then the program will only achieve the second “S” and will be considered a failure. It simply works only when management understands that 5S is fundamental to good performance rather than secondary to it. 5S only succeeds in environments where there is discipline and self regulation in place to ensure that performance standards are maintained and followed.

Standards need to be maintained through a simple daily auditing system of different areas, or zones, with a person or small team being responsible for each.

Even with all this in place, long term sustainability will only be possible if the system is continually measured and improved. The QCDSM program ensures this will happen on a daily basis. In addition to QCDSM, members of senior management must carry out periodic inspections of each target area. One common error by senior management is never being visible on the factory floor.

5S provides the foundation for improving performance through continuous improvement. It focuses on:

  • Increasing quality by removing waste from the workplace.
  • Provide reduction in operating costs by reducing non value added activities.
  • Improving delivery by by simplifying processes and removing obstacles
  • Improving safety through improved housekeeping and identification of hazards

Provide an environment where continuous improvement is embraced through workers problem solving and suggestions, thereby improving morale.

Simply put, 5S works best if the implementation of the program is based on the 5S Performance Improvement Formula:



  • P – Increase productivity.
  • Q – Improve product quality.
  • C – Reduce manufacturing costs.
  • D – Ensure on-time delivery.
  • S – Provide a safety working environment
  • M – Increase worker morale.

Making sure that everyone keeps up the daily 5S discipline is a management problem. It may be the responsibility of the 5S team leader, but it is also driven and supported by the auditing and tracking system that is used to measure conformance to the 5S process. The structure of the QCDSM process ensures a disciplined approach is carried out on every shift day in and day out.


You should be able to achieve substantial levels of performance improvement with a structured approach to carrying out day to day 5S activities.

  1. Measurement of performance can occur in many ways and at many levels such as overall factory performance and work team productivity. Overall plant performance is the most important from a competitive viewpoint but many other factors can influence this other than 5S. When employing a structured system like QCDSM, expect a typical increase of about 15%-50%
  2. An organization’s concern for safety can be a significant contributor to morale and pride.It can be measured with Lost Time Injury rates or other measures of safety performance. Up to 70% Reduction
  3. Cleaning out the junk will sometimes open significant space by itself. If an analysis and localized re-layout of departments is part of the 5S effort, there may be significant savings. However, such space savings must be consolidated into larger blocks of space to be useful. 5%-60% Reduction
  4. Absenteeism results from many causes but pride and morale are two of the more important. Improvements in absenteeism, if other factors remain constant, can be assumed as resulting from increased pride and morale. 20%-50% Reduction
  5. If 5S teams prepare before-and-after spaghetti diagrams, they can measure reductions in walking distance. There are, however, other motion savings at the micro level (reaching, bending, etc.) that are more difficult to measure directly. 20%-50%+ Reduction
  6. The rigor, discipline and analysis inherent in the QCDSM approach to 5S implementation can contribute to the development of the Continuous Improvement mindset. This occurs when constantly looking for and implementing improvement becomes a part of the job. One way to measure this is with the QCDSM Idea/Suggestion program. Expect the number of suggestions per employee is tracked and reported to management. Number of Suggestions 1500%+ Increase

If you wish to get more out of your performance improvement budget, reducing the amount that you spend and increase the likelihood that these investments will positively impact your company’s performance over time, use a structured system like QCDSM to manage and maintain your 5S program. Without a focused approach to 5S implementation like QCDSM, your improvement efforts will eventually die.

Source by Brice Alvord