What are the 5 techniques of eliminating waste?

1 November 2023by cleanoodle.com

How tidy is your workplace or organization? Many might respond, “It’s quite disorganized.”

For instance, you could be dealing with a cluttered desk, stacks of unfiled documents, and a team that frequently needs help locating the tools and resources necessary for their tasks.

Disorganization not only consumes time but also diminishes productivity and team morale.

Hence, it is worthwhile to invest some time in reorganizing your office, department, or organization. Even minor enhancements can substantially enhance overall productivity.

In this article, we delve into the principles discussed in our Lean Manufacturing article by taking an in-depth look at the 5S System. This systematic approach is designed to reduce wastage, enhance efficiency, and improve productivity across various settings, be it a compact office, your workspace, or a sprawling manufacturing facility.

The 5S System

Originating in Japan as part of the kaizen philosophy, the 5S System aims to establish a safe, clean, and well-organized workplace. While initially developed for manufacturing, this system is adaptable to any environment, offering efficiency gains and waste reduction.

The five steps are grounded in Japanese words:

  1. Seiri – “Sorting”
  2. Seiton – “Setting in Order”
  3. Seiso – “Systematic Cleaning”
  4. Seiketsu – “Standardized Cleanup”
  5. Shitsuke – “Sustaining the Practice”

We’ll explore the advantages of this system and then delve into each step.

Benefits of the 5S System

Employing the 5S System to restructure your workspace brings forth numerous advantages:

 Resource Savings: It prompts a thorough evaluation of tools and processes. Inefficient or obsolete tools or processes are either revamped or discarded, resulting in resource savings. Storage expenses are also reduced while efficiency is improved.

Quality and Safety: This system enhances quality and safety, standardizes processes, and fosters a clean and organized work environment, which most employees prefer.

Enhanced Productivity: After implementing the system to reshape your environment, you and your team will likely experience increased productivity.


While implementing this approach, ensure its suitability and proportional application. People can become overly enthusiastic about tidiness, which can be fitting in certain scenarios. However, in other cases, it may consume management resources and potentially alienate highly skilled or creative individuals from the organization.

How to Apply the 5S System

The 5S System can effectively organize virtually any setting, whether you’re aiming to tidy up your office or revamp an entire department. Completing each step comprehensively is viessentialefore moving on to the next. Let’s delve into each step in greater detail:

Step 1: Sorting

In this phase, eliminate any items in your workspace that aren’t necessary for your work. This includes tools, furniture, clutter, instructions, processes, books, or parts. Could you remove anything not currently used for your tasks?

The “red tagging” technique is effective for identifying unnecessary items. If you need more clarification about an item’s usefulness, attach a red tag and relocate it. If the item has not been used after a month or two, it’s likely unnecessary and can be stored or discarded.

Step 2: Setting in Order

After completing the Sorting step, you should only have items essential for your work. Could you organize these items to ensure easy access? The aim is to facilitate efficient workflow. Could you place items near where they’ll be used to reduce unnecessary movement? For instance, relocating your printer closer to your desk or office can save time and energy if you frequently print documents.


Articles like “The Art of Filing” and “How to Be Organized” may offer additional assistance during this step.

Step 3: Systematic Cleaning

Maintain cleanliness and a clutter-free environment in your office or workspace. Define the desired level of cleanliness, considering health, safety, and team morale. Identify sources of clutter and dirt, such as persistent paper piles around the copy machine or constantly accumulated empty coffee cups in the conference room. While cleaning, analyze why certain areas are challenging to keep organized. In all likelihood, you need more appropriate tools, products, or processes to maintain cleanliness. Please document the state of your space with photographs, helping the next step.

Step 4: Standardized Cleanup

Now that you’ve established your cleanliness standards devise a routine or process to sustain this cleanliness every day.

Additionally, address problem areas and develop plans to rectify them. For instance, consider a manufacturing plant’s metal-cutting machine area—could installing a central vacuum system help remove metal shavings and dirt? Or, in the copy room, address the issue of paper accumulation by providing a recycling bin.

The key is to make systematic cleaning a daily practice rather than an occasional chore. A cleaner workspace enhances the safety and health of your team. Could you look at all problematic areas and implement solutions to address their root causes?

Step 5: Sustaining the Practice

This step can often be the most challenging. Once you’ve established the previous four steps, it’s crucial to maintain the newfound habits. This involves retraining both yourself and your team to adopt these new practices.

I think that effective communication with your staff is key. Utilize tools like posters, newsletters, procedure manuals, performance reviews, training sessions, and management check-ins. Ensure everyone on your team understands the importance of adhering to the new system. Consider offering rewards or incentives to motivate your team to develop and uphold these habits.



What are the 7 Wastes and the 5S?

The 5S methodology aids in the removal of the seven forms of waste in lean manufacturing: Waste in Transportation, Excessive Inventory, Unnecessary Motion, Waiting Time, Over-processing, Overproduction, and Defects.

What Are the Approaches to Waste Reduction?

The 5S System encompasses five distinct phases, which can be translated from Japanese as “sorting,” “arrangement,” “cleanliness,” “standardization,” and “sustenance.”

What Are the Five Techniques for Waste Elimination?

The 5S System offers a structured, effective process for waste reduction and enhancing workplace efficiency. It comprises five steps: Sorting, Organizing, Thorough Cleaning (or Systematic Cleaning), Establishing Standard Practices, and Maintaining the Gains.

What Constitutes a Set of Approaches for Reducing Waste and Shortening Cycle Time?

Lean is a methodology for enhancing organizational systems by minimizing or mitigating typical forms of “wastage” within them. Its goal is to enable organizations to operate more swiftly, cost-effectively, and efficiently by improving cycle times and throughput.

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