The essence of 5S

Implementing 5S is a beautiful method for fundamental improvements within your organization. Just follow the rules, and the results are guaranteed: a clean and ordered factory. But is that really the essence of 5S?


5S as an improvement method

The 5S method is an improvement path that strives for order and cleanliness in the workplace. Simply put: eliminate redundancy and sort the rest. It is realized in five steps, all of them starting with the letter S:

Seiri – Separate - Lose surplus

Seton – Arrange - Everything in its place, there's a place for everything

Seiso – Clean - Cleaning = Inspecting

Seiketsu – Standardize - Document and recognize

Shitsuke – Stimulate/Sustain - A waste-free workplace forever!

5S is a proven improvement method. When these steps are followed, from the first to the last S, cleanliness and order will automatically appear in the workplace. But the essence of 5S lies deeper.


The essence of 5S

Implementing 5S goes much deeper than cleaning and sorting. The first step towards achieving world-class results starts with the implementation of 5S. The first improvement steps are the basis for learning how to improve the organization:  

  1. Improving bottom-up learning:
    Improving needs to be a joint effort; everyone needs to be involved, specifically the workplace. 5S mainly takes place at workplace-level and is very well suited for learning how to improve bottom-up.
  2. Learning to work by following a structured and proven improvement route:
    To achieve world-class results, a wide range of improvement tools, methods, and routes are available. All of these roadmaps have been validated. Learn to trust these methods. The great thing about a proven improvement method is that other organizations have done it before you. Methods have been tested, improved, and sharpened. Don’t invent the wheel yourself; put your efforts towards applying the methods.
  3. Learning to work with standards
    Step 4 of 5S is about turning agreements into documented standards, while step 5 teaches the organization the discipline to live by these standards. It often requires a change in culture and is an essential step towards improvement. Standards are the basis for securing improvements and the starting point for future improvements.

This way, a 5S route is not just about getting order and cleanliness in the workplace. The essence of 5S is mostly about giving trust. Trust the power of the workplace, the power of the improvement methods, and the power of standards. That is the basis for continuous improvement and the path to world-class results.

In this interview, Han van Helvoort of Zeelandia explains how securing standards was at the core of the improvement process at Zeelandia.

Performing your 5S audit

Are you ready for a fundamental implementation of 5S? A 5S audit tells you where you stand. Read our blogs and start improving within your company now!

Cierpa Assessment

Would you like a better overview and more options? The Cierpa Assessment digital 5S checklist is a great tool for doing that.

The Cierpa Assessment web-based auditing tool shows you the progress within your organization. It helps you transform 5S audits from snapshots into a long-term strategy.


Cierpa Software enables you to improve your organization continuously. LEAN manufacturing changes your work floor processes towards better and faster results and ultimately reduces any waste. With our LEAN software for companies, it’s possible to manage this ongoing process quickly and easily. Our Cierpa improvement consultants can also offer help.

Techniques and methods like 5S audit, Kaizen, OEE and the underlying LEAN thought principles are at the very core of our software suite. With Cierpa OEE, Cierpa Kaizen, Cierpa Quality, Cierpa Competence and Cierpa Assessment, Cierpa Software really speeds up all your improvement processes!

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The essence of 5S