People who have been practicing Lean know that this is a trick question. The obvious answer is five. The Lean answer is six. If all 5Ss are implemented and completed, the sixth S, Safety, is achieved, as a clean, well lit, bright, and organized work area is inherently a safer work area.
Most companies and organizations do a good job in implementing the first three of the 5Ss, Sort, Set in Order, Shine. The work areas are well organized and present a good first impression. However, many 5S efforts stop there, and people do not implement the fourth S, Standardize, and do nothing about the fifth S, Sustain. Without completing all 5Ss, the sixth S, Safety is not achieved. There is a need to move to the next two Ss, Standardize and Sustain.
Standardize requires a visual representation, usually a picture, of the way the work area should look, at all times. If the area is different than what is shown in the picture, then there is a problem in the work area. Also, there should be a posting of the color coding, usually the stripes on the floor, posted throughout the work areas. All work areas should look the same with respect to lines on the floor, signage, and metrics. A lot of work remains for Standardize.
Sustain is maintaining the improvements and gains already achieved, over the long term. This is usually accomplished through the use of a 5S Audit program, and a Reward and Recognition program.
A periodic 5S Audit is a check on the sustainability of the first four Ss. In a typical 5S audit, there are five criteria for each of the five Ss. Each criterion can be assigned a score from zero to four. This makes for a 100 point scale, with the lower the score the better. The audit counts the number of times an instance of non-5S is observed. A point is given for each instance of non-compliance.
The 5S audit is not meant to highlight or demean the people in the work area. It is a useful tool for educating and reminding the people that work in the area that there are requirements for keeping the work areas neat, clean and well-organized. Upon completion of the 5S audit, the work area is given a score. The score can be used to determine the frequency of the 5S audits of a given work area. A typical 5S audit schedule is shown below.
Audit Score Frequency of Audit
60 – 100 weekly or every other week
40 – 59 every other week
20 – 39 Monthly
10 -19 Quarterly
0 – 9 Time to raise the bar
An Audit Team can be comprised of Supervisors from other work areas, usually a group of three or four Supervisors, on a rotating basis, that make up the audit team. The team can also include one or more people from the office. It is best to include someone who is not familiar with the work area, as they are the ones who ask the why questions, “Why do you do that?” and “Why do you do it that way?”
Daily 5S Audit
In addition, there is usually a daily 5S Audit, conducted at the end of the shift or between shifts where there are multiple shifts. The Daily audit is required to insure all tools, equipment and supplies are put away at the end of the day, and also to insure the work areas are clean and free of debris and trash at the end of the day. People should be able to start their work at the beginning of the day, in a clean, well-organized and safe work area. They should not have to spend the first half hour or hour looking for tools, supplies, hand tools, parts, etc. before they can begin their work.
Reward and Recognition
5S Audit scores can also be used to promote some friendly competition between the various work areas. It is part of human nature for people to be competitive and have a desire to be number one. Companies should take advantage of this trait of human nature to sustain their 5S programs.
In addition to a vigorous 5S Audit program, there needs to be a Reward and Recognition program, to sustain 5S, maintain interest in 5S, and to reward and recognize those work areas that consistently have good 5S Audit scores. The recognition is usually given by the VP Operations or the General Manager, during the Quarterly, All Employee meetings. The best area or areas are called to the front of the room and given a token reward of a gift card, gas card, dinner for two, tickets to a sporting event or other reward that would be recognized as valuable by the employees, and appreciated by the employees being recognized.
In addition, most plants have a Reward and Recognition board which is us ually placed in the main entrance to the facility, or the lunch room, or some other place where employees and visitors alike, would pass by the board several times a day.
This type of Reward and Recognition promotes a spirit of friendly competition, as most people like to see their name in print and see their picture posted on a wall. Mark Zuckerberg took advantage of this trait of human nature and created FaceBook. Now Mark is one of the richest people in the world.