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The Japanese 5S

An ongoing discussion from 1999 through 2015 . . .


Q. I'm looking for a book about the Japan theory of the 5S (order, cleanliness ...). Thanks.

Miguel Angel Martín
  surface finishing shop
Madrid, Spain


A. The following will be a good reference:

5S for World Class Manufacturing - Dr. Chao-Hsien Chu

We have implemented procedures,

Your Gateway to Quality, Productivity, and Safety

Seri (Say ree) - Sort and Discard
Eliminate All unneeded items.
Seiton (Say ton) - Arrange and Order
Arrange all items that are left.
Seiso (Say zo) - Clean and Inspect
Clean all areas.
Seiketsu (Say ket soo) - Standardize and Improve
Maintain the first 3S
Shitsuke (Shee tsoo kay) - Believe and Discipline
Believe that the 5S are important
Rich Pounds
electronics - Sugar Land, Texas


Gemba Kaizen

A. Another good book is Gemba Kaizen by Masaki Imai =>
It is useful to know that some Japanese Companies now have the sixth ' S ' in the picture namely :" Shittkari " which means Security. How you interpret it with reference to your working and environment is left to you.

Khozema Vahanwala
Saify Ind
Bangalore, Karnataka, India


Q. I would like some information about the process to initiate the 5s in my company. Some of my questions are: Do I have to implement the first three S's at the same time, or do I have to do it one at a time? I would really appreciate any information, Sincerely,

Francisco M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico


Q. Dear reader, I'm in the phase of implementing the 5s methodology. If any could help with advice, hints on how to implement, it would be very appreciated. Thanking you in advance.

bari k [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- campinas.sp,brazil


Q. Hi.

I'm making my *thesis* and it is for the application of the 5S's in a metal mechanic company. Please I need information about how begin to application the 5s's in the company. I have information but I don't know How to begin? The 5s's it's more interesting.

Thanks for your attention and sorry for my English.

Ronnie M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Lima, Peru


Q. Dear sir,

I am a fifth (5th) year Industrial Engineering student of the Saint Louis University, Baguio City, Philippines. We are currently studying Quality Management Tools.. could you please possibly send me a history of the Japanese 5S? This would be a great help in our study....

Thank you very much..

More power and God Bless...


Jehan C [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Saint Louis University - Bonifacio St., Baguio City, Philippines


Q. I want to know who came out the 5s concept and the history about 5s concept

Tan K [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
manufacturing - Malaysia


A. Hi Jehan, Tan: If you follow the links to the Amazon books that are recommended and/or advertised on this page here, you can "look inside" some of them to see if they have a chapter on the history of 5S. I suspect that most do. Then you can see if your university library has that volume or can get it for you. Good luck with it! Regards,

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Q. Dear,

My name is Kyra Acke. I'm a University student from Belgium. I'm in my last year and to graduate I have to make a thesis. The subject of my thesis is 5S. The problem is that it is really hard to find information about 5S in Belgium. I have contacted all libraries in Belgium and the only book that I have found up till now is "How to implement 5S". I really like to find more information about 5S and that's why I ask your help. Do you have some information about 5S or maybe an electronic version of a book, please send it to me.

Kyra Acke
Hogeschool West-Vlaanderen - Belgium

January 24, 2009

A. Hi Miguel and folks,

The first reference you can access is by Takashi Osada: "The 5S's - Five Keys To A Total Quality Environment" [link is to info about the book at Amazon]. Osada is a founder of the 5S concept for industry use. He is working on TPM thus the book is TPM-oriented. The safety aspect is also included. A good reference as a general guidance, but old.

5 Pillars of the Visual Workplace

The next reference is books by Hiroyuki Hirano =>
Hirano is a JIT consultant thus his books are all JIT-oriented. Other books, such as by Monden and Imai, adopted Hirano's reference.

The 5S within Toyota Production System (TPS) is illustrated by Jeffrey Liker: "The Toyota Way" [link is to info about the book at Amazon]. First you have to understand that this approach is to assist TPS.

"Lean Thinking" [link is to info about the book at Amazon] by Womack and Jones also touches on 5S with this perspective.

The origin of 5S is unknown but definitely not by Toyota (see, Taiichi Ohno's "Workplace Management" [link is to info about the book at Amazon]. The 5S was mainly used at schools for education purpose (but no reference because many books were burnt at war). The first application of 5S in business is for safety purpose. Studies show that 5S reduces incidents but also increases productivity and quality.

There are many How-To books. You can access them easily. However, quality of those books varies. For theses, you should not use them because they are empirical, not suitable for the academic purpose. Get journal articles, such as my studies on 5S. I detailed the historical background of 5S as well.

How effectively can we implement a 5S program? Ask consultants or go to their website. As I mentioned, 5S has multiple perspectives thus you should set the purpose of 5S first. The 5S for organizational excellence is a different story.

I am also writing a PhD thesis about how differently the concept of 5S is understood and applied in the West. It is not about how to implement a 5S program. My study found that 5S is no longer as housekeeping. In Japan, 5S is rather used for organizational development and change, such as to educate workers after M&A is executed.

Hope this comment would help.

Kaoru Kobayashi
Griffith University - Gold Coast, QLD, Australia

Ed. note: Thanks, Kaoru. Truly helpful!

July 17, 2009

Q. Who is the originator of work place management (5S) and from which year this concept started.

D K Srivastava
- secunderabad A P India

January 24, 2010

A. I have spent time with various Japanese consultants who are now pushing 70 or are in their 70's, and they point to an origin of the 5S approach in consulting work done by "Nihon Nouritsu Kyoukai," which is currently known in in many countries outside of Japan as the "Japan Management Association."

Although I have heard many stories about the first time certain people that I know heard about 5S as young men working in factories, I have not heard about any one person being its originator. First of all, the first 2 S's are a saying in Japanese: "SEIRI-SEITON" which under normal standards of translation mean simply: "spruce up" or "make everything shipshape." My impression is that posting the words "SEIRI-SEITON" in a workplace was a normal thing to do before they became the first two S's of what we now know as the 5S's. No one person can lay claim to the idea of posting SEIRI-SEITON, just as no one can claim to have thought of posting "ANZEN-DAIICHI" ("Safety First"), another saying one would normally see in an industrial workplace.

Among the stories I have heard, one anecdote is that the Nouritsu Kyoukai Consultants at Toyota (possibly Mr. Shigeo Shingo and others working with him or for him), after having quantified SEIRI by saying that its achievement was in removing items from the workplace, and SEITON by saying that its achievement was in designating fixed locations for items needed in the workplace, felt the need to reinforce the gains made by SEIRI and SEITON activities, and the chose the word SEISO (which means simply: "cleaning") because it fit the first two concepts, and it's alliteration made for a snappy slogan. This seemed to catch on, and the consultants eventually got to 5 S's. In fact, for many years Toyota only spoke of 4S's. Now, there are some companies that insist on 6 and 7 S's. But in any event, I think that the truth is that 5S originated with the Nouritsu Kyoukai Consultants who quantified "SEIRI-SEITON," which had become a trite and sometimes empty phrase, often seen in Japanese factories.

Fred Harriman
- Grass Valley, California

December 11, 2011

Q. 5S or 6S, which method is suitable for Malaysia companies? and why? TQVM~

FengYi Chan
- Kedah, Malaysia

January 28, 2012

Q. Hi there,

I am currently making a research about the 5s methodology, and I am in need of a book or journal that could help me to find the history of 5s in the Philippines. This could be a big help for me and for my group. Thank you!!!

Bal Uni
- San Rafael, Bulacan

November 18, 2013

Q. Good Day! Sir I'am a fourth year student . I would like to know if you have a questionnaire about 5s audit checklist with VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY of your questionnaire, if so, can I get it for my thesis...
thank you very much ...

Ethel Sotelo
- Cavite, Philippines

Kaizen for Chrome Plating

October 31, 2015

Q. Can anyone here please suggest some kaizen in chrome plating?

Rupesh yadav
M.S.L - Najafgarh,delhi,India

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