By Kathy Bryant,2014-11-16 17:52
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    Student Guide

    5S and Visual Controls

    Class Overview

    5S is a means of organizing and maintaining a workspace to promote effective

    operations. This level of organization allows visual management, which is the

    practice of making conditions in a workplace obvious so problems and

    opportunities can be immediately addressed.

    This class covers the concept of 5S and how to implement visual controls.

    Class Objectives

    1. Learn how to implement 5S principles in a work area.

    2. Understand the benefits of implementing visual management.

    Key Points

    1. 5S, by organizing a work area, makes people more effective.

    2. 5S is more than just cleaning an area.

    3. Visual management frees people up from having to monitor work areas for

    abnormal conditions.

    Class Notes

    What is 5S?

    5S is a system of workplace organization and maintenance that helps workers

    become more effective while reducing their workload and frustration.

    In short, 5S is the practice of having a place for everything and everything in its



    Version 3/21/2010. ? Copyright 2010 by Velaction Continuous Improvement, LLC.

    5S and Visual Controls

What is 5S?

    The five ‘S’ terms are:

    1. ____________: Moving unnecessary items out of a work area.

    2. ____________: Finding a home for everything.

    3. ____________: Cleaning a work area and developing a system to

    keep it clean.

    4. ____________: Locking the gains in place through labeling, color

    coding, and other methods.

    5. ____________: Developing the system to keep from backsliding. These five terms are simply Velaction’s choice. There are many different terms

    that are used by other companies, though the steps are always similar (i.e. standardize vs. stabilize, scrub vs. sweep).

    The reason for this is that the original 5S terms are Japanese, and translation is not an exact science.


Why Do 5S?

    You will see substantial improvement in a process from simply creating a well

    People become more effective when they know exactly where 5S’ed work area.

    everything is. Obviously, there is a productivity gain when a worker does not have to waste time searching for things. But there is also the benefit of serving customers better. Well-organized information on a computer, for example, helps customer service representatives answer questions more quickly. Teamwork is also improved, because people coming in to help with a process or cover for a vacation will know right where to find things. Organized areas also make a great impression on visitors, whether they are customers, potential investors, or people interviewing for a job.

    Most importantly to the workers, though, 5S reduces stress. There is less frustration regarding missing tools, and less irritation at coworkers for messing up work areas.


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    5S and Visual Controls


    In the sorting step, you will have to decide what stays and what goes. In general, anything that hasn’t been used in the last 30 days probably should not be in a work area. If it is an item used a few times a year, put it in a storage area. Otherwise, throw it out, sell it, or make it available to other people in the company. The sorting process makes use of the ______ _________ . These tags are placed on items in question as a visual indicator that the item is under review. If nobody has a valid reason for keeping the item in the area, it is sent to the red tag area. There, coworkers can find items that they might have otherwise needed to purchase.



    The straighten step entails finding a designated location for everything. Organize the work area so the most common items and tools are the closest to where they are needed.

    Avoid FSS, or __________ ___________ ______________. This is the affliction in which any horizontal piece of real estate accumulates items. The less undesignated space that is available, the less space there is to put unnecessary items.

    Pay special attention to personal space here. People spend a lot of time at work, and need a place to store personal items and to personalize their work areas. 5S doesn’t mean it has to be a sterile environment.


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    5S and Visual Controls


    Most people think of scrub as simply a thorough cleaning when starting a 5S program. It is more than that. It also includes creating a system to maintain cleanliness in the area.

    That is often done through a cleaning schedule and creating locations for cleaning supplies. There is more to it, though. It also includes organizing an area to make cleaning easier. Look for areas that get messy, and find ways to prevent that mess. Guards, chutes, and process changes all do this.

    You should also make areas easier to clean. For example, bundling cables makes it easier to vacuum and dust workstations.



    Creating locations is only half the battle. The other part is making it obvious what goes where and when something is missing. This is often done with color coding, shadow boards, and foam inserts in drawers. Be creative.


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    5S and Visual Controls


    The hardest part of 5S is staying on top of it. When people get pressured, it is human nature to start taking shortcutsdropping tools on a shelf instead of

    putting them away, or not following the process for where to put files on a computer.

    Sustaining 5S in an area requires self-discipline, leaders’ presence in the work area, and a formal audit process.


Setting the Team Up for Success

    For 5S to thrive, your company needs:

    1. Leadership: Leaders must focus on training as well as setting the example. A

    boss with a messy office won’t have 5S credibility.

    2. A ___________ ___________ ____________: This shared mindset has

    people working together to constantly make things better in the company. 3. The right __________ to implement 5S. This is more than just knowledge of

    the Lean tool. It also includes knowing office programs, how to create labels,

    and general ‘arts and crafts’ knowledge.

    4. Equipment and materials: Having the right tools and supplies available

    reduces the burden of making quick, on-the-fly changes to work areas. 5. _______________: Red tag areas and color-coding conventions support

    implementing 5S. Individual operators don’t have to recreate the wheel when

    the company has processes in place.


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    5S and Visual Controls

5S Has Its Challenges

    5S is not easy. Some of its aspects are intuitive. Most people leave their computer mouse on the right side of their keyboard, and often have the location ‘marked’ with a mouse pad.

    Other aspects are more challenging.

    1. People don’t like being told what to do. Having a boss tell us to clean up

    our work area takes us back to our childhood when we were told to clean up

    our rooms.

    2. When the going gets tough, 5S goes out the window. In truth, 5S will help

    keep things from getting out of control. But in the instant when a person has

    to decide whether to put an item away and save time later or leave it out to

    save a few seconds now, the few immediate seconds often win out. 3. People like ownership of their area and don’t want to lose the personal

    feel of a workspace. Most people spend more time at their desks than

    anywhere else. They want it to feel like their own space.

    4. Compromise is hard. But it is required in common areas and shared


    5. 5S has a front end cost. Many companies implement Lean when times are

    tough. That makes for a stressful combination.


The Next Step: Visual Controls

    Visual controls go a step further than 5S and use visual signals to help manage a workplace. These easily recognizable signals indicate when a particular situation exists, and links to a specific action.

    A real-life example is the traffic signal. It indicates that the cross traffic will be stopped by showing green. A yellow light means that the light will be changing shortly, and links to the action to stop if safe to do so. And, of course, a red light means to stop.


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    5S and Visual Controls

The Next Step: Visual Controls

    Visual controls should be:

    1. Easily recognizable. Subtle does not work well for visual management. 2. Commonly known. People in the area need to know what the signals mean,

    or they are useless.

    3. Linked to a standard process. There should be a clear If-Then relationship

    between the signal and a process.

    4. Acted upon. Ignoring a visual control defeats the purpose of having it. In this image, the lines on the floor indicate how many tellers should be assigned.

The Benefits of Visual Controls

    Visual controls offer the following benefits:

    1. ________ reduction: No counting, reviewing due dates, etc. 2. Improved service: Abnormal conditions quickly become apparent, which

    means rapid resolution.

    3. Standardization: Processes must be standardized to implement visual


    4. Better communication: Routine communication is handled by the system,

    so there is no need to ask basic question (i.e. What’s your status?).

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    5S and Visual Controls

The Visual Management Process

    In short, visual management makes processes speak to people. Problems leap out, which results in action much sooner and with much less cost than if the abnormal condition is left unresolved.


    Additional Resources

    Additional free materials are available online at

    1. Products to help implement 5S are available at our Lean store located at

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    5S and Visual Controls

    Corporate License Information

    1. This material is licensed only. No ownership of content is transferred. 2. The purchaser may only use this training material within a single corporate reporting entity. This includes, but is not limited to, reporting divisions or subsidiaries of larger organizations. A good rule of thumb is that one license is required for each president in the organization.

    3. This training material may be modified to suit the needs of the purchaser. The original training material or its derivative works may not, however, be sold or otherwise distributed outside the purchasing company.

    4. This license may not be transferred.

    5. This presentation is intended for use by a single organization to train its own employees, or people with whom they regularly do business, such as members of its supply chain or other vendors.

    a) It is not intended for third-party training, such as, but not limited to, training

    conducted by consultants or corporate trainers.

    b) The material in this presentation or its derivative works may not be sold by any

    party except Velaction, LLC.

    c) No compensation may be received for the use of the material for training

    purposes or for any other reasons.

    6. If any part of this license is not enforceable, the other provisions remain intact.

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    ? Copyright 2010 by Velaction Continuous Improvement, LLC.

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