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How to Implement 5S – Introduction

For a company-wide and long term programme like 5S to succeed, it must be properly structured. This means that 5S activities must be:LIC0025LO1Competent-Organisation-Certificate

Management-led – Visible leadership is provided throughout the project.
Structured – The system and structures are carefully designed; activities are well-planned .
Targeted at all employees – It is not uncommon though that, for a start, the company implements 5S only is the operational departments.
Preceded by training – Staff involved must be properly trained before they are asked to participate in 5S.

5S Committee

Once the senior management of the company has completed their training in 5S, and decided to launch a company-wide 5S Movement, their first task is to form a 5S Committee to spearhead the movement. The committee is usually made up of senior manager from the various departments. This committee should be supported by a capable and hardworking Secretariat. During the first year of implementation, the committee will need a great deal of support in terms of organisation and administration. If the company is big, it may be necessary to form departmental subcommittees.



5S Master Plan

The committee will then work out a Master Plan. This plan can take the form of the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Action) cycle. A complete cycle could be a 1-year period. Activities that can be organised under each stage are described below. These are only suggestions and companies should adapt them for their own application. The entire PDCA cycle should be repeated each year.master_plan

PLAN STAGE P1 – Carry out a Diagnostic Study
P2 – Formulate 5S Policy & Goals
P3 – Prepare a 5S Action Plan
DO STAGE D1 – Execute the 5S Training Plan
D2 – Implement the 5S Activities Plan
CHECK STAGE C1 – Carry out 5S Audits
C2 – Find out the Causes of Problem
ACTION STAGE A1 – Implement actions to prevent recurrence of problems
A2 – Organise 5S Convention
A3 – Give awards and recognition
A4 – Incorporate good 5S practices into SOPs
A5 – Review entire programme and plan for the next year.

PLAN STAGE (P1):Carry out a Diagnostic Study

The first task is to determine the present condition of the company as far as 5S is concerned. The 5S Committee should first carry out a diagnostic study.

  1. Carry out an audit of the different areas of the company.
  2. Take photographs to document the situation before improvement
  3. Identify the problems/wastes that can be addressed through 5S; e.g. unsafe conditions, long set up times, frequent delays in delivery, high inventory of finished goods etc.


PLAN STAGE (P2): Formulate 5S Policy & Goals

The management should then develop a clear vision of the kind of workplace that it wants to achieve through 5S. Translate this vision into a 5S policy and 5S goals.

  1. Formulate a simple 5S Policy. This is a simple statement of the management’s intention with regards to 5S.
  2. Identify the goals of the 5S Movement. These are specific areas of improvement.
  3. Select some major 5S projects which should be tackled at the macro-level.

We believe that high quality and productivity come from a clean factory and well-disciplined workplace, and declare to implement 5S activities to achieve the following goals:

l               To create and maintain cleanliness everywhere in our factory, so as to achieve high product quality to satisfy our customers.

l               To have a perfectly arranged workplace, where all equipment, parts and materials are kept under clear rules, in order to raise our work efficiency and productivity.

l               To ensure a safe and healthy work site for our employees.

 Example of 5S Policy & Goals of one Japanese Company

Plan Stage (P3) – Prepare a 5S Activities Plan

The 5S Action Plan is a plan of the activities that should be organised. Among the activities in the 5S action plan are: (the list is not exhaustive)

  1. Organise the company premises into separate areas of responsibility.
  2.  Identify departmental 5S facilitators or champions
  3.  Prepare for official launch of 5S Movement.
  4.  Prepare a 5S Training Plan
  5.  Prepare 5S Awareness Plan – e.g. publications, banners, stickers etc.

P3a      Organise premises

  1. Organise the company premises into a number of  areas or sectors for the purpose of promoting and implementing 5S activities.
  2. Prepare a layout diagram indicating the various sectors and the people in charge.
  3. Display this layout prominently for all to see.

P3b      Appoint 5S Facilitators

For each 5S area, select one or more 5S ‘champions’ or facilitators. Facilitators should be from middle management.

The role of the 5S Facilitator is to:

  1. Assist the department manager in implementing 5S in his department
  2. Help to explain the 5S policy
  3. Encourage staff to participate in 5S
  4. Train the staff in the concept of 5S
  5. Guide the 5S action teams in their projects, for example helping them to identify suitable problem areas for 5S projects

P3c      Form 5S Action Teams

The staff of each department/area are organised into 5S action teams to carry out 5S projects during the implementation phase. Each team will have a leader and a 5S facilitator assigned to guide and assist them. One facilitator may be assigned to up to 3 teams.

The role of the 5S Action Team is to improve and maintain the standard of 5S at the workplace. They do this by:

  1. Performing 5S Good Housekeeping duties as set out in the daily operational procedures.
  2. Identifying areas that need improvement and carry out 5S Projects.
  3. Maintaining the standard by daily 5S practice.

Do Stage (D1):   Execute the 5S Training Plan

Since we want everyone in the company to participate in 5S activities, we must ensure that everyone knows his role. In other words, everyone must be trained.

  1. Train everyone from managers to rank-and-file workers.
  2. Train them in their roles as managers, 5S facilitators, 5S project team leaders and members.
  3. Educate everyone on the 5S policy & goals. If the number of employees is large enough, you should print your own 5S booklet.

In addition to formal class room training, on-the-job training for 5S action team members is very important. This will take place when they embark on their pilot 5S projects.

Do Stage (D2):  Implement the 5S Activities Plan

  1. Organise an Official launch of the 5S Movement
  2. Set up 5S corners in every department.
  3. Commence 5S projects by the various 5S action teams
  4. Monitor the progress of 5S activities

D2a  -          Official Launch of 5S

To give the 5S movement the publicity and recognition it deserves, it is recommended that the 5S committee organise an official launching ceremony for the 5S movement or campaign.Among the activities commonly carried out by many companies are:

  1. Putting up banners and posters
  2. Speech by member of the senior management
  3. Big clean-up (gotong royong)
  4. Initiation of pilot 5S projects e.g. Desk 5S

 D2b      5S Corners

The 5S corner is a very important part of the 5S system. Each department should have a least one 5S corner (depending on size of the department).

Among the items to be displayed on the 5S corner are:

  1. 5S Responsibility Map
  2. 5S Organisation Chart
  3. 5S Activities Plan
  4. 5S Projects (summary and reports)

 D2c      Commence 5S Project (by the 5S Action Teams)

 In order to help the staff to appreciate that 5S is more than physical housekeeping of the workplace (which can be assigned to a large extent to cleaners), it is highly recommended that activities be organised in the form of 5S projects, undertaken by 5S Action Teams.

 The procedure for carrying out a 5S project is as follows:

1.    Open a 5S Action Team Project File.

2.    Identify a suitable problem area for 5S.

3.    Carry out the 5S Project

4.    Prepare the 5S Project Report (see below for a suggested report format)

-     Put one copy in the 5S Corner

-     File one copy in the 5S Action Team Project File

5.    Make a presentation to the 5S Committee during the monthly 5S Patrol

6.    Proceed to next project

Example of 5S Project Report

Company Name

Dept :  Date:
Team: Project Code:
Project Title/Description:



  • Floor, walls, equipment, parts, furniture are all dirty and oily
  • Many unnecessary items lying around
  • Messy and untidy – no visual system







  • Floor, walls, equipment, parts, furniture are clean
  • Walls and floor re-painted
  • Area is clutter-free
  • Items are stored in systematic manner and arranged neatly
  • Clear labelling


Benefits/Cost Savings

 D2d      Monitor Progress of 5S Activities

 One of the biggest challenges in managing 5S is to sustain the movement. Towards this end, the 5S committee has to focus on 2 areas:

  • Monitoring and Control
  • Continuous Renewal

(1)        What to Monitor

 1a.       Monitor the Activity Level

For example, the number of 5S projects, number of 5S meetings, daily 5-minute 5S cleaning and schedules etc

1b.       Monitor the Results of 5S

For example,

  • The state of seiri/seiton/seiso,
  • Staff’s understanding of 5S,
  • Degrees of standardisation,
  • Quality of projects,
  • Cost savings etc.

 (2)        How to Monitor

 a.         The 5S Committee should conduct regular 5S patrols to monitor the 5S implementation in each department; 5S Checklists should be developed to facilitate checking.

b.         The 5S facilitators or sub-committees should submit regular reports to the 5S Committee on the progress of 5S activities in their departments. Simple 5S Reports should be designed for this purpose.

 Aexample of the monitoring system used by a large cement manufacturing company is given in Annex 1 of the notes.


The 5S Patrol is part of the 5S Monitoring System. It’s primary objective is to enable members of the 5S Committee to check on the progress of 5S activities at departmental level and to give feedback. The following are some simple do’s and don’ts that 5S patrol members should observe to make the activity more effective and meaningful.

1.         Before Start of Patrol

1)            Be punctual in reporting to the meeting place (informed by Secretariat)

2)            Bring along some writing material to record your observations.

2.            During the Patrol patrol

1)            Do be attentive to the presenter. He and his team(s) have worked hard and need our encouragement.

2)            Ask questions.

3)            Observe closely to pick up areas that need improvement.

4)            Look out for good points to complement the team.

5)            Look out for outstanding projects and teams etc. (for Recognition/awards)

6)            Look out for good ideas that you can ‘copy’ for your own dept.

7)            Don’t be distracted during the 5S patrol.

8)            Don’t wander off from the group.

9)            Don’t engage in non-5S related issues/discussions.

3.         After Patrol

1)            Participate actively in giving your feedback. Point out areas that can be turned into future projects, or existing projects that can be further improved.

2)            Make suggestions to improve the format of the 5S patrol.

5S Audit Exercise

Carry out a 5S Audit using the 5S Evaluation Score Sheet in the next page.

  1. Plot your scores on the 5S Radar Chart below




5S Evaluation Score Sheet


5S Inspector Name:  Reference No.  :D ate of Audit  :

5 S

Items To Check



(1 to 10)


(Pts x Weight)

























Very Good



Very Poor

NOTES:        (1)   Score = Points x Weight                     (2)   1 sheet per department inspected


C1 – Carry out 5S Audits

The 5S Committee should carry out at least 2 major, company-wide 5S audits in the year.

1)    Develop checklist to gauge the standard of 5S in all the different departments/zones.

2)    Identify the gaps or problems which require improvement.

3)    Provide feedback to the 5S facilitators

C2 – Find out the Causes of Problem

If progress is not as good as expected and the 5S goals are not being reached, analyse the causes. Common reasons include:

  • Insufficient promotion and awareness.
  • People not well-trained.
  • Insufficient management support etc.


ACTION STAGE (A1): Implement Corrective Actions

Based on the review carried out in the Check Stage, prepare an action plan to implement actions that will prevent the recurrence of problems identified in Check Stage. Actions can include:

  • Remedial training
  • More publicity and promotion
  • Greater involvement of managers to encouraging 5S activities

ACTION STAGE (A2& A3): Organise a 5S Convention& Give Awards and Recognition

An example of how one Japanese multinational company located in Singapore organises a 5S convention to accord recognition and awards to its staff for their participation and support in the 5S movement is given in Annex 1 of the notes.

ACTION STAGE (A4 & A5):    

The final 2 actions are:

  • Incorporate good 5S practices into the company’s standard operating procedures.
  • Review the entire 5S Movement and plan for the next years 5S Movement.  The same PDCA approach can be applied to draft the 5S plan for the following year.


5S IS NOT EASY. Although 5S is very simple in concept, implementing it successfully is not easy.

Takashi Osada, author of the book, 5S’s: Five Keys To A Total Quality Environment, has this warning:

The 5S’s are not that difficult to understand.  However, they are very difficult to do well.  They require perseverance and determination.  They require constant effort.  They require the ability to see what is important and to pay attention to details.  They may not show dramatic results, but they do show results.”

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