Develop a Lean Manufacturing Plant with 5S Methodology

The 5S methodology is a proven set of principles to make your manufacturing plant more streamlined, efficient, and productive. EHS Today calls it ‘the place where safety and lean meet’. The idea is that safety is the ‘honory’ 6th s. Like icing on the cake of a work area that is safe, organized, and efficient. Assembly can verify, 5S supports just-in-time production, cellular manufacturing, total quality management, and Six Sigma—the pillars of a lean manufacturing plant. And the more organized, cleanly, and productive your work area? The happier and more productive your  workforce. Check it out.

“Benefits [of 5S methodology] include raising quality, lowering costs, promoting safety, building customer confidence, increasing uptime, and lowering repair costs.”-John Grower


Keep what you need. Identify what is out of place or in the way. And give away what you don’t. Simple. Need a rule of thumb?

  • Never used? Ditch it
  • Used < twice a year? Store it, out of the work area
  • Used once a week? Store in the work area
  • Used once a day? Keep it on hand, out of the way


‘A place for everything and everything in its place’. This is a core pillar of achieving a lean manufacturing plant. The key? Labelling, storing, and logging equipment, tools, gear, materials, and miscellaneous items properly.

  • Label every important piece of equipment, gear, or tool
  • Denote the responsible of each item
  • Make every item used on a daily or weekly basis easily accessible
  • Create a color-coded map to save time finding equipment, gear, and tools

Sorting properly eliminates time wasted spent finding items or getting items out of the way that are obsolete. LISTA identifies the following kinds of wastes that can be eliminated: motion waste, searching waste, human energy waste, excess waste of inventory, waste of defective products, waste of unsafe conditions. How that’s for lean?


Keep it clean; keep employee morale high. Keeping your facility cleanly and tidy is a critical part of sustaining your efforts to streamline your plant for better productivity. A comfortable, clean, uncluttered environment increases your workforce’s pride in their workplace, ownership, and ultimately level of motivation. That’s one hell of a good outlook for the success of your plant.


Document, share, and review your strategy. Communication is key to making 5S methodology the new norm. Old habits die hard, but documenting your goals, strategy, and progress puts the right amount of pressure and support on your workforce to develop this new culture.

With focused, documented effort, 5S can become your standard operating procedure. And you’re well on your way to becoming a more lean manufacturing plant with happier, more productive workers.


Any new initiative requires a culture change, communication, and new habits to achieve real improvement. Stick with it and encourage your workforce through your own disciplined commitment to the 5s principles. Otherwise, time and money invested into making your plant more streamlined, efficient, productive—and, ultimately, lean—are pointless.

5S checklist
Want to contribute to the CraftForce blog? Submit your blog topic idea(s) at 
Call Now Button