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Successful 5S Implementation To Increase Productivity And Engagement

26 Apr 2019 1:21 PM | Lucas Lombardi (Administrator)

In this article we share how we implemented 5S in an international bottling company, in all sectors, and with suppliers, to reduce costs, increase engagement and improve safety.

An international bottling company defined the 5S methodology as a fundamental part of its growth and sustainable development. We worked with them to implement 5S on the bottling lines, the manufacturing sector, administration, the dining room, the first aid room, and even the entry and security areas. Even suppliers were trained. Why did they choose this tool? How did they benefit from it?

5S is a Japanese tool that aims to help companies improve organization and housekeeping to increase productivity. With 5 steps -- sort, store, shine, standardize and sustain-- 5S aligns the objectives of the different sectors of an organization by applying new habits and behaviors.

With a clear definition of responsibilities and processes, presented visually, it is possible to improve communication between sectors and eliminate "gray areas" where no one takes full accountability. It seems like a simple tool since it does not use statistics like Six Sigma, nor does it require prior knowledge. However, it is difficult to implement because it requires a cultural change and working in a different way. It involves a set of activities designed to change the habits and behavior of people to create good working and environmental conditions, and to improve quality, productivity, commitment and safety.

That's why the first thing we did in our project was implement the first S, sort: divide the entire organization into sectors, both physically and in terms of personnel, and choose a pilot sector with which to start training.

The first S, Sort

As part of the first S, Sort, we defined which tools or documents were needed, and which were not. We prepared an inventory. Many tools and objects did not belong in the sector, or there were too many of them. While others were necessary but not in good condition, or not in the location or quantity needed. The operators were the first to discover these details by observing their own place of work. One of the characteristics of 5S is to work with the ideas of the employees. The workers themselves know what they need and what they don't need, though they do not know how to express it. They do not know who to tell or they are afraid to provide feedback.

The second S, Store

Although we eliminated many things, it was difficult to maintain the workplace organized. New employees or suppliers were the main cause of chaos and disorder, and it was difficult to avoid. So, we identified what we needed, and defined a specific “home” for each item, so that everyone could find it and return it to its home after using it.

The third S, Shine

Storing objects is essential to keeping them "good as new", and that is the beginning of the third S: Shine. A lot of money is spent maintaining unneeded stock or replacing and repairing tools, when just taking care of them is much more efficient. As part of the third S, cleaning schedules for each sector and its instruments were defined. From the roof and the windows, to the floor, machinery, tools and drawers. 5S in industries seeks not to clean, but to avoid letting things get dirty in the first place.

The fourth S, Standardize

We needed to increase the visibility of the norms to make them "unforgettable". The bottling company began to apply visual controls everywhere and defining procedures or adding 5S standards to existing procedures. We emphasized making the procedures “baby proof” by including pictures, sketches or examples, and being very specific. The graphics not only had to say what must be done, but how, when, and by whom.

The fifth S, Sustain

The fifth S is where many companies abandon 5S. 5S in industries is not simply a couple of months of training It is a new habit. 5S is not implemented until employees are proud of their workplace. When they reach this level, they have incorporated 5S in their way of working and living. They even apply the knowledge at home and in their personal lives. Clear indications of a 5S level are when employees are requesting an internal audit, or sending pictures showing their accomplishments.

Luciana Paulise
Biztorming Training & Consulting


The Argentina Texas Chamber of Commerce is the primary advocate of Argentina and Texas business communities and is dedicated to building economic prosperity for both Countries. The Chamber of Commerce is a Member-driven organization.


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