Five related terms beginning with an S sound that describe workplace activities related to being visually in control and Lean production. The five - Japanese - terms read:
The 5S are often translated in English as Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize and Sustain; in Dutch they are translated as Separate, Arrange, Clean, Standardize and Maintain. Some Lean practitioners add a sixth S of Safety: establish safety procedures and introduce them in the workplace and office.
Toyota, however, has traditionally worked with only 4S:
1. Sifting (Seiri): Go through everything in the workplace, separating and eliminating what is not needed.
2. Sort (Seiton): Arrange the items needed in a neat and user-friendly way.
3. Clean Sweep (Seiso): Clean and inspect the work area, equipment and tools.
4. Spic and span (Seiketsu): The order and cleanliness that result from disciplined execution of the first three S's.
The last S - Shitsuke (Sustain) - is omitted because it becomes redundant within Toyota's system of daily, weekly and monthly audits to check standardized work. Whether 4, 5 or 6 S are used, the main point is that efforts are systematic and essential for Lean production. 5S is not a stand-alone program that can be pulled out separately.