The 5S workplace organization method is a methodology applied mainly in the production industry and increasingly for services, whereby the term stands for precisely defined actions. It is an idea from the Japanese Toyota Production System.

5S is a tool to make the workplace and its surroundings safe, clean, and uncluttered. Order and cleanliness are the basic requirements for improving the subsequent workflow. It is assumed that this also reduces the risk of accidents at work. The aim of the 5S plan is to arrange the workplace so that the work can be conducted seamlessly, and searches and long transport routes and waiting times are prevented so that the work can be carried out without waste. A clean and tidy working environment is also the basis for high-quality work. As a methodical tool, 5S can be used in all areas of the organization, from production, service, and management to data retention and IT. The direct integration of relevant employees (employee involvement) makes it easier to identify weaknesses and implement improvements. One of the basic principles of this method is to make the established standards in the workplace visible. Deviations can thus also be found more quickly by outsiders and supervisors. The original Japanese names are usually translated into English. There are various different versions, some of which maintain the alliteration. These “5S” can be translated into English as follows: Seiri – sort. All of the items are sorted and those that you don’t need in order to work in this place are removed. Seiton – set in order. This is about selecting, defining, and marking a permanent position from an ergonomic viewpoint. Seiso – shine. Everyone cleans the workplace and equipment themselves, and regularly identifies, marks, and takes care of deficiencies. The cleaning is used for testing. Seiketsu – standardize. This means that standardized signs, labels, and markings are always used throughout the workplace. Constant tidying can prevent new items from accidently entering the workplace. Shitsuke – Sustain/self-discipline and continuous improvement (Kaizen). Discipline is required for order and cleanliness. Once the place for the tool has been defined, it always belongs there. Assess and log deviations regularly. Any inconsistencies found must be eliminated.

Glossary Technical terms at a glance