Streamline operations with the 5 S’s

There are thousands of companies throughout the world that all have one thing in common, to operate efficiently. Without a goal to keep work organized and producing quality goods and services—eventually the company could face closing its doors forever. Luckily, there is a popular and simple technique that originated in Japan and has become a way to help streamline operations called the 5S’s. The 5S’s in Japanese mean: Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke. In English they translate to: Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain, respectively.

Believed to be created by Toyota representatives, Sakichi Toyoda, Kiichiro, and Taiichi Ohno in the 1970s, more and more manufacturing and other companies implemented the 5S’s to help streamline operations, reduce waste and costs, and become more efficient. This lean method to help operations become more efficient was based on observations that the three Toyota representatives observed at Ford Motor Company and the Piggly Wiggly. The three men analyzed Ford workers waiting for one step to be completed before the next step could be started which resulted in a great deal of wasted time on the job and eventually layoffs. At the Piggly Wiggly supermarkets, the inventory system used to order goods was based on need and demand which helped the Toyota reps understand the Just-In-Time (JIT) process which they later incorporated into the 5S methodology. And like they say, the rest is history.

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