What Are The Problems Associated With 5s

5s is one of the most fundamental building blocks of in a lean process. However, many people often implement it poorly or misinterpret it and that why it ends up giving the results that they didn’t expect to have.

We can be able to understand some of these issues of misinterpretation by deeply exploring the problems associated with 5s. This will definitely help you in getting far much better results when you decide to implement it in the future.

What Does 5s Stand For?

5s is a term used to refer to workplace practices that are used to reduce waste and improve visual control in a factory. The term 5s is itself derived from five Japanese words. Each word represents one of the five stages of the process and they all start with the letter S hence the name 5s. They are

1.   Seri meaning to SORT

2.   Seiton meaning to SET IN ORDER

3.   Seiso meaning to SHINE

4.   Seiketsu meaning to STANDARDIZE

5.   Shitsuke meaning to SUSTAIN

Problems found in the sort and set stages and how to solve them



  • Lack of a designated red tag area
  • Not getting the approval to remove red tagged items from all three shifts.
  • Not being allowed to remove all the unnecessary items such as tools and materials for the work area
  • Lack of an independent adjudicator to settle the disagreement


  • Make sure that you train all your operators on 5s and its benefits
  • Carefully explain to them the importance of completing the tags for recording purposes.
  • Assign one team member to control the red tag area and should not allow anything into the area unless it’s properly tagged.
  • Give the operators a chance to review whatever has been tagged.



  • Not making it easy to return parts to their original positions
  • Lack of using visual management principles
  • Not following or sticking to ergonomic design principles
  • Not locating the different parts in the optimal position


  • Make sure that your employees always adhere and stick to ergonomic principles and guidelines
  • Use labeling, shadow boards and color to help your operators find or locate where different things are stored
  • Make exceptionally good use of spring balancers for tools. This will greatly help the operator to return different tools and materials to their proper location for storage
  • Determine or locate parts and equipments that are used often. The more the equipment is used the easier it should be to reach.

If you are looking for help in discovering and following the path of 5S, you can find informative guides and training here: http://www.5stoday.com/

Additional Resources