Download the 5S Organization Guide Used By NASA, Boeing, & HP.

How Did the 5S Organization System Become Standard at NASA, Boeing, and Hewlett-Packard?


Managers, shift leaders, and employees often hold differing opinions on how products, materials, tools, and merchandise “should be” organized on the warehouse or production floor. Workspaces without a standardized system for organization yield more mistakes, non-essential actions, and dismal workflow. Finding a solution requires restructuring organization around visualized data, which overhauls the human brain’s ability to categorize, identify, and organize data efficiently. Visual imagery transmits messages up to 400% faster and commits concepts to long-term memory with better recall than text data.

The 5S system facilitates a visually driven work environment which eliminates questions, cuts down material handling costs, and ensures what is supposed to happen, does happen. This 5S system handbook provides a detailed, step-by-step guide for one of the most effective and commonly adopted organizational methodologies for commercial workspaces. These tips help you achieve a workspace with minimal waste, fewer human errors, and fewer headaches.

Sort – Don’t Get Zealous
Don’t remove anything without the local work group’s approval. Zealous 5S’ers can undermine support by barging ahead insensitively. It’s better to compromise on some things than to jeopardize the 5S mission. However, be persuasive when appropriate, when something is clearly a source of waste or is used infrequently. Remove and replace old or damaged safety signage instead of adding it to the closet.

Shine – Define Clean
Define “clean” – you may face conflicting definitions for clean within your work area. Find a definition that everyone supports. Be sure to identify appropriate cleaning supplies for your work area. Some cleaning solutions may harm equipment while other cleaning instruments may harm metals, photocells, or tooling.

Set in Order – Involve Everyone
Involve the entire team (immediate work area and others) in thinking through changes. Be sensitive to the concerns and reservations of stakeholders; they know the area best. Sketch ideas on a flip chart or paper to build understanding and evaluate them. Evaluate the space at hand, and think realistically about whether the current storage bins, cabinets, and lockers provide sufficient space without overload.

Standardize – Quality Labels, Effective Color
Highly visible and easy to understand: floor signs and aisle tape help identify hazards and provide visual cues for capturing attention, comprehension, and retention. Standardize floor and area tape colors with this guide. Handwritten signage is difficult to read on high shelves and fades over time. High-quality labelers with durable adhesives will ensure exact, consistent, and lasting labels for long-term success.

Sustain – Commit & Collaborate
Network with others engaged in the same activity. Collaborate to establish common approaches for creating documentation, visual aids, etc. Tap your company’s graphics staff or people with strong computer skills to help with visual aids. Provide them with a rough sketch or an example from a technical manual or catalog.

Download the 5S Organization Handbook 

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