5S Lean Part 4: Sustain

5S Lean Part 4: Sustain
5S Lean Part 4: Sustain teaser

10 Dec 2019

The fifth and final “S” in the 5S lean principles is shitsuke, translated to Sustain.
If you’ve little experience with 5S, 5S is a method of workplace organisation based on five principles: seiri, seiton, seisou, seiketsu, and, shitsuke. Read our blog posts on 5S here. (Lean 5s Part 1, Lean 5s Part 2, Lean 5s Part 3)

Shitsuke is the ongoing commitment to keep all the improved processes in the first 4S going in your organisation. Sorting, setting in order, “shine”, and standardising is all good in its initial stages. However your team may lose enthusiasm for the “new normal” that 5S aims to implement in a workplace. 
Sustaining the 5S principles is the linchpin that helps your organisation maintain its excellence. 

5S – Sustain – Shitsuke

The 5S Lean system is the recognition that any human system is a fallible system – if we ourselves are not perfect, then no system we create can be perfect. Of course, it’s admirable to aim for maximum efficiency and best results. 

When practices are standardised company wide, audits and checklists may come back with poor results or underwhelming data. This may be due to a failure in organisation which can be remedied with readjustment or greater and more sustained employee training.

Simply telling your staff what to do and expecting them to understand – especially in a hands-on business – is not adequate. When workers were not directly involved in the initial standardisation (4S) of the previous 3S, errors can easily crop up.

Sustaining 5S is also a feedback system – feedback from workers is given to management, which management must take on board in good faith. In some cases, not enough time is allotted to the first 4S to complete tasks fully. This is related to the Japanese ideal of kaizen, or continuous improvement. 

Sustaining 5S is helped along by demonstrating the standards that are expected of workers. They should be supervised and monitored to ensure they are adhering to the 5S principles. Employees should check-in by using the auditing techniques in 4S, which can also reveal additional areas for improvement or changes to systems as necessary. Incentivising workers for highlighting drawbacks in processes is also a welcome part of 5S culture.

The Sixth “S” – Safety

Many lean manufacturing systems operate on “6S” with the last S being “safety.” (There is no Japanese equivalent, as 6S is a Western invention.) 

Safety sits in between 3S and 4S (seiso and seiketsu.) This additional step between shine and standardise focuses on identifying hazards to workplace health and safety and implementing mechanisms to reduce risk to those on the factory or warehouse floor. These are accomplished through thorough risk assessments or Job Safety Analysis. Digital checklists are often used to make safety recommendations and implement them into your 5S (or 6S) housekeeping system. Safety improves working conditions which also enhances efficiency and productivity due to a reduction in days off due to illness or injury.

To find out more about 5S and lean systems products, call Backsafe Australia on 1300 305 314 or visit our special 5S page.

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