Introduction to 5S: Step 1: Sort - Heather Santo

Introduction to 5S: Step 1: Sort

By Heather Santo | 5S

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illustration of 5S methodology

The 5S System is a part of Kaizen that we talked about earlier. To begin 5S is not something that your business should take lightly. Once you have started, you are permanently changing the way that you do business. You will notice your productivity go up, your time spent working going down and your profits increasing.

The 5S’s are:

1. Sort

2. Straighten

3. Shine

4. Standardize

5. Sustain

Let’s start with Step 1: Sort. In the sorting process you are going to go through your entire work area and remove anything from the space that is not necessary to performing the function of that space. This is going to seem really rough at first but following through with it will make your life so much easier in the long run.

The first part of the sort process is to determine which items really are not necessary. Any item that has not been used in 30 days qualifiies under this category. At this point, the items are not discarded, they are just set aside to be sorted later. This process is very easy for an entrepreneur, but in a large scale corporation you will need a team to remove the items. Typically this is done with the 5S team placing red tags on the items to be removed and then transferred to the area to be sorted. On that tag you write, the date, location, reason from being removed etc… Each of these tags when then be catalogued into a log book for future reference.

When I went through this process, we did not use the red tags. The 5S team simply removed the items while we were watching so we knew which items were being taken. How diligent you are during this process will determine your success in Step 5.

This is the phase where you have to be completely honest with yourself and what you use. Let’s talk about a stapler for example. If you are using the stapler everyday or several times per day, the stapler would stay. If you are using it less than once per week or greater, remove the item from the area. Now, it may seem easier to leave the stapler on your desk in case you may need it. That is what you do not want to do. You must be strict with discipline on this step and follow the rule.

After all of the unnecessary items have been removed from the workspace, there are 3 things that can happen to them.

1. They are discarded

2. They are assigned a new home

3. They are necessary and returned to the workstation

Are you ready to take on the 5S challenge? Do you have items that you have trouble deciding what you want to do with them? Do you have resistant team members to the process? I’d love to know!
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Footer Heather Santo is proudly an A Real Change Certified Virtual Assistant with over 15 years of customer service experience via face-to face, telephone and internet. She also spent time in corporate America as a Human Resources Manager performing generalist duties and specializing in recruiting.
She now enjoys using her talents to serve her clients and help them to operate their businesses efficiently.

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