“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” - William A. Foster
And so do many others who have embarked on the quest for excellence! 5S is amongst the first fundamental steps implemented by an enterprise towards Total Quality Management, pursuing continual improvement.
5S stands for five Japanese words that represent steps in a systematic technique to implement good housekeeping and achieve lean processes. These are:
5S is a system to reduce waste that optimizes productivity and quality by maintaining an orderly workplace and using visual cues to achieve more consistent operational results. This practice embeds the values of organization, neatness, cleanliness, standardization and discipline in the workplace and it is typically the first lean method implemented by firms. ITC’s export quality bulletin no. 89 provides practical information and hints to implement 5S.
Most enterprises are often surprised to learn that only a fraction of all its processes actually add value for customers. This limited value-addition is a result of “Muda” (Waste) related to the following:
Competitiveness is the ability of an enterprise to offer a unique mix of values for which the client is willing to pay. These value propositions often translate into favourable attributes related to:
When valuable time and effort are wasted in searching, waiting, retrieving, reworking, it leads to decreased efficiency and effectiveness of the enterprise, thereby reducing its competitiveness.
To be able participate in international trade, enterprises need to be internationally competitive. They must meet technical standards and comply with regulations, for which they require to implement processes according to for example, Lean management, Total Quality Management, 6 Sigma, ISO 9001. 5S is the point of departure; the baseline for improvement measures.
5S is specially relevant and an attractive technique for SMEs because it is:
Among the main benefits of implementing 5S are:
Surprisingly, studies reveal a higher uptake of 5S (and other quality improvement techniques) among larger enterprises. Due to lack of information on benefits, and perceived conflicts with short-term production schedules, SMEs refrain from implementing this simple quality improvement method that has demonstrated big results and monetary gains.
To sensitize SMEs about 5S, to disseminate information on its benefits and present practical hints to implement this technique, ITC has developed a brief guide which may be freely downloaded from our website.