What is 5S?

Learn about 5S and how to use this tool in Kure

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Written by Bill
Updated over a week ago

5S is a five-step organizing technique to create and maintain an intuitive workspace.

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These are the steps to be taken in order:

5S provides a way to create order in a disorganized area by getting rid of clutter and reserving a place for everything. It’s important to implement 5S because it creates an organized, clean and high-performance workplace.


During the Sort step, everything that’s moveable is reviewed to determine if it should be kept in the workplace. It doesn’t mean that you simply arrange things more neatly.

If something is used daily, it should stay in the workplace. If it’s used less frequently (perhaps weekly) it should be stored nearby, but easily accessible. Less frequently used items can be stored further away.

Create a quarantine area and move anything in question to it. Everything in the quarantine area is identified with a Red Tag and reviewed for disposition quickly, typically within a week or less. Red Tags are for things, not people!

Benefits of sorting include:

  • Racks and cabinets of unneeded items are removed, eliminating walls that hinder communication between employees

  • Improved process flow

  • Less time searching for items

  • Unneeded equipment is removed lowering maintenance costs

  • Workspace becomes less crowded and easier to work in

Set In Order

Set In Order means that you arrange the items that are needed in the area, and identify or label them so that anyone can find them or put them away. The keyword is anyone!

Set In Order provides people with a way to identify anything out of order and holds people accountable for putting things away. Everything that remains in the work area needs a designated location, which may be done through:

  • Shadow boards

  • Labeled locations

  • Taped floor outlines

Benefits of setting in order include:

  • Adequate space is allocated for the storage of items

  • Items have “their place” and aren’t left in walkways, etc.

  • A person sent to find something finds it easily

  • Time spent looking for things is reduced

  • Wrong items aren’t retrieved in error


Shine emphasizes removing the dirt, grime and dust from the work area. The entire work area is cleaned and painted, if needed. This should be a one-time activity to set things right. After that, a regular cleaning schedule is developed to maintain the cleanliness.

It’s important that the workers who create the mess clean it up! This incentivizes them to find creative ways to avoid making or minimizing the mess.

Some benefits of shining include:

  • Defects are easier to see in a well lit and clean environment

  • A work area clean of debris is less likely to cause a tripping hazard

  • Machines that are clean and maintained work more efficiently

  • A clean work area promotes improved morale


To Standardize means to develop a consistent way of implementing the tasks that are performed daily including Sort, Set In Order and Shine.

The regular cleaning schedule is formalized and documented with procedure descriptions and checklists to record compliance. Supervisors should hold employees accountable to follow standardized procedures.

Some benefits of standardizing include:

  • Easier to train new employees

  • Less room for errors and scrap

  • Work area stays organized

  • The work area is safer


Sustain means that the 5S program has a discipline that ensures its continued success. It also means that the 5S mentality is ingrained in everyday work life and procedures.

To sustain your efforts, periodic audits are planned and executed by department leadership, posting the results. Supervisors are held accountable for correcting deficiencies and agreed-upon improvements.

The benefits of sustaining include:

  • Cleaner, safer, working environment

  • Items are easier to find

  • Detailed tasks are documented to make processes more efficient

  • Higher employee morale

  • Work area is maintained in an organized fashion without clutter

How do I use 5S?

5S areas where there is obvious disorganization or clutter, especially if it’s constantly difficult to find things. These areas could be anywhere in the workspace, physical or virtual, where disorganization in the process can lead to inefficiencies and mistakes.

5S as early as you can. It’s often viewed as a housekeeping technique, but it’s actually an innovative management system that helps people think lean.

Red Tag

The Red Tag Log is used during the Sort phase of 5S to document and track the disposition of items removed from the workplace.

(Right click > Save As either of these images to print on white or colored paper)

Each item removed from the workplace should have a numbered Red Tag attached. Record the Red Tag number in the and the date it was removed. Enter a brief description in the third column.

Determine the disposition of items removed within a week. Enter the disposition and the date it occurs. Use the status field for any other information you wish to record.

Don't forget to continue with the other four Ss: Set In Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain! Kure will guide you step by step.

Kure guides you through each step in using 5S by asking simple questions and providing guidance along the way. Powered by our Process Optimization Path® (artificial intelligence), Kure will help you and your teams collaborate to complete process improvement projects together.

Ready to use 5S and start improving?

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