5S Methodology and its importance in the business world.

Posted by Gabriela Hipólito
at Friday July 21st, 2017.

The 5S methodology was developed in Japan after World War II in order to assist in the restructuring process of the country and to reorganize the japanese industries.

During this period the american principles of quality control were improved in Japan, boosting the development of Japanese industry and forming what became known as Quality in Japanese style or Total Quality Control (TQC) which consists in the control of processes to ensure the quality of the final product.

The 5S techniques were expanded rapidly by Western industries once it is an extremely simple tool and easy to apply. At first, it was focused on avoiding waste and resolving the effects of the war, but with the evolution of information technology the amount of data in companies has increased dramatically and the 5S methodology is now applied into new environments, proving to be very useful in the organizational context, in schools and also in personal life.

What it means


The name of this methodology is based the five “senses” of cleanliness and organization of the Japanese culture. Not easy to find the exact meaning of the words in Japanese: Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu and Shitsuke, which, when translated into English are defined as: Sense of Use, Sense of Organization, Sense of Cleaning, Health Sense and Sense of Self-discipline.

To understand the details of the operation of this methodology we will tease out the meaning of each one of the Senses:

1. Seiri – Sense of Use and Disposal (Sort)

Objective: To put in order the environment – Separating what is useful and what is unnecessary to reach the ultimate goal

Seiri is to “lay the groundwork” for the implementation of 5S, and means using the materials and information with balance and common sense. Its application is to sort out what its really necessary to perform the activities and then to exclude all that is superfluous. At this stage the results are immediate: gain of space, increased productivity and ease of cleaning and maintenance.

Já dizia o ditado "mesa organizada, vida organizada"

“mesa organizada, vida organizada”

2. Seiton – Senso of Organization (Set in Order)

Objective: To identify and sort it all out, so anyone can easily find the essential tools to work.

This step is to position the elements in space strategically. Initially the materials are classified according to their need for use – the ones that are the most frequently used should be more accessible and away from the less used elements. It is important that all materials and objects are identified and labeled so that they can be found easily and quickly.

The application of Seiton also helps inventory management, because it makes it more convenient and fast to know when it is running out particular item, thereby avoiding shortages or excesses.

O bestseller “A mágica da arrumação”Marie Kondo apresenta uma abordagem para acabar com a bagunça

O bestseller “A mágica da arrumação”Marie Kondo apresenta uma abordagem para acabar com a bagunça

3. Seiso – Cleaning Sense (Shine)

Objective: Clean and prevent soiling

A clean environment provides security, comfort and makes work more enjoyable for both, the people and for the circulating the area. This step is to educate employees to include cleaning habits in their work space, including drawers and the organization of cloud shared folders.

If each one contribute to the cleanliness of the workplace many waste of time and money will be avoided.

4. Seiketsu – Health and Hygiene Sense (Standardize)

Objective: To standardize healthy practices

Each of the above steps is complemented and is at this stage where the previous 3S will become standardized as routine practices of the company. For Seiketsu hygiene depends on following healthy patterns of order and cleanliness. The term “health sense” is our ability to assess healthy practices and standardize them accordingly “health” not only physical but mental, financial and environmental.

5. Shitsuke – Sense of Self-Discipline (Sustain)

Objective: Make a habit of these attitudes, assuming the responsibility to take the healthy standards

The last phase of the 5S program is defined by the commitment to the previous steps. Despite being a program implemented for the benefit this sense consists of the ethical and moral standards of each. You can see that this step is being executed when the tasks are performed even uniformly in the absence of control mechanisms.

Mereo is specialized in linking people’s participation to the final outcome of its customers. We operate in the implementation of Total Quality Control methodologies in practice and among them we are reference in the implementation of 5S in the mining industry.


Watch this video (PT) about the 5S methodoogy

Understanding the importance of 5S for businesses is simple, but to generate results can not be so trivial. Its application in the routine of employees involves attitudinal changes, and as part of the Eastern knowledge also involves a lot of discipline.

The Quality programs have helped companies to continuously improve outcomes through cultural change, we observe as well as improving productivity, increased safety and team satisfaction.

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