Selling 5S to clients – a No-Brainer for 5S aficionados

Here’s the deal.

Anyone who has tripped over tools lying around and put out their back as a result knows. Anyone who has spent ½ an hour hunting for tools at change of shift knows.

5S (sorting, straightening, systematic cleaning, standardizing, and sustaining) makes sense.

It’s not difficult to implement but it’s a hard sell when you have to ask for money for 5S where one possible scenario is to put a lot of effort implementing 5S, only to fail at “sustaining”.

If you want to succeed with 5S, make sure you don’t end up doing 4S.  And, don’t try to  prepare an ROI on 5S alone because chances are it will not fly.

The “easy” solution is to blend in 5S activity with normal day-to-day operations.  No amount of motivational seminar-attending will give you “sustain”, no amount of manual oversight will give you “sustain”.

But, if you justify and put in place a run-time resource allocation, leveling and balancing environment for managing day-to-day operations AND if you define and include 5S as a “best practice” process, then the well-entrenched discipline of clearing out your InTray will result in clearing out of 5S tasks.

Having put a focus on the approach to justifying 5S, monitoring of 5S activity must also be made easy (i.e. unobtrusive).

One way to do “easy” is to have a “cleanup” process fragment that is workstation-specific and posts key steps with context-situation pictures of “should be” and invites the worker to take a picture of “as is” with a smartphone /I-pad and post this at the step.

No one will want to have a bad picture posted, so they will first clean up before they take the picture and there you achieve “sustain”.

Once “as-is” data is being collected, it becomes easy to review the data and rank it as being acceptable/not acceptable.

If the organization wants to make all of this a contest for “employee-of-the-month” or award some prize on a quarterly basis, the organization now achieves 5S motivation.

As for ROI justification, a simple widening of the ROI scope of required run time environment for 5S to a run time environment for all day-to-day activity (which has easily identifiable, tangible and quantifiable benefits), will get you the funding you need for 5S.


Management consultant and process control engineer (MSc EE) with a focus on bridging the gap between operations and strategy in the areas of critical infrastructure protection, major crimes case management, healthcare services delivery, and b2b/b2c/b2d transactions. (C) 2010-2019 Karl Walter Keirstead, P. Eng. All rights reserved. The opinions expressed here are those of the author, and are not connected with Jay-Kell Technologies Inc, Civerex Systems Inc. (Canada), Civerex Systems Inc. (USA) or CvX Productions.
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