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Carlos Pereira da Cruz

5S Good Housekeeping Practices and ISO 9001 implementation

If you’re looking for a way to effectively organize your workplace, then you may be interested in implementing a Quality Management System or requirements of a standard such as ISO 9001. You may also want to think about using a method called 5S – a widely used concept for getting things in order – to go along with your QMS standards. In this article we’ll show you how to combine and make the best of both ISO 9001 and 5S, also known as Good Housekeeping Practices.

For what do the 5S’s stand for?

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The five S’s stand for a list of five Japanese words that together constitute a workplace organization method. The words are “Seiri” (Sort), “Seiton” (Set in order), “Seiso” (Shine), “Seiketsu” (Standardize), and “Shitsuke” (Sustain). The list describes how to organize a workspace for efficiency and effectiveness by identifying and storing the items used, removing unnecessary items, cleaning the workspace, maintaining the area and items, and sustaining the new order with procedure development, better discipline and continuous improvement.

Implementing 5S’s

The implementation of the 5S’s must be done in the following order:

  1. “Seiri” (Sort)
  2. “Seiton” (Set in order)
  3. “Seiso” (Shine)
  4. “Seiketsu” (Standardize)
  5. “Shitsuke” (Sustain)

The order needs to be followed because the next step is developed on the results of the previous step. For example, you can only truly set (Set in order) after you have been clear about what needs to be used, where and how frequently (Sort). Here is the example of implementing 5S and ISO 9001:

Sort. We should only have with us what is relevant for productive activity. If we look around a workspace, we can easily identify things that should not be there, that create confusion and can act as an obstacle when least expected. For example, in an office we may be talking about obsolete product sample boxes, that are piling up and taking up precious space. In a factory we may be talking about obsolete tools abandoned in the corner that are accumulating dust and attracting other obsolete tools, trash, broken equipment. Sort means filtering out the workspace and throwing away anything that is not to be used at work.

Set in order. Now we know what is relevant for the workspace, the rule is: One place for everything and everything in its place. Items that are needed every day are permanently stored near the place of use and with some kind of local visual identification for quick retrieval and storage. For example, tools that are only used once a month do not need to be taking up space near the workplace every day; they can be stored elsewhere. Items that are used once a year can be at the warehouse.

Shine. This may include painting and improving lighting to make the workplace clean and tidy. It also may include repairing leaks, oiling noisy moving parts, making areas and flow paths clearly visible, creating ways to reduce debris production or projection.

Standardize. Until now, everything that has been done may be nothing more than a big spring-cleaning exercise. One has to go beyond an event and make it a daily task by defining routines, creating work instructions, giving training, using visual signals as aids, using photos as standards, promoting checklists to avoid forgetting something. This way one, ensures that the previous steps become embedded in the work being performed.

Sustain. Develop methods and tricks to display what needs to be done and easily detect when something is out of order. Promote the continuous improvement of the 5S program.

Relationship between 5S’s and ISO 9001

Applying 5S is a way of implementing ISO 9001:2015 clauses 7.1.3 and 7.1.4, which address Infrastructure and Environment for the Operation of Processes. According to clause 7.1.3, the infrastructure required to produce a product or provide a service should be maintained. Maintenance can be additionally ensured through following good practices while operating and keeping infrastructure and its surroundings clean. For example, the build-up of debris and dirt from production processes, and dust on facilities can generate excessive heat and the breakdown of critical equipment.

The Environment for the Operation of Processes (clause 7.1.4) can be viewed as a set of human and physical factors. Work methods are an example of human factors that can affect conformity of products and services. Physical factors like noise, vibration, heat, cleanliness and humidity, should be controlled because they can influence process efficiency or product or service conformity. While applying 5S, organizations unclutter and rearrange their workspace, define good working procedures both for operation and cleaning, train and create visual help to ensure implementation, discipline to maintain the rules and improvements.

Benefits from 5S implementation

So, here are some benefits from 5S implementation.

1) Increased productivity

  • Equipment that is clean and properly operated may mean less downtime for repairs or maintenance, and also savings on replacement parts
  • Less time wasted searching for lost tools and parts
  • Less time wasted walking around just carrying necessary items
  • Optimized workflow saves time
  • An organized workspace minimizes defects and re-work

Relationship with ISO 9001: better Infrastructure operation (7.1.3), better Environment for the Operation of Processes (7.1.4) and less Nonconforming Outputs (8.7)

2) Improved health and safety

  • An uncluttered and clean workspace can mean fewer injuries, and fewer long-term illnesses (second-order benefits from these are a reduction in lost time, and the need for rushed training of workers to cover for absent colleagues)

Relationship with ISO 9001: better Environment for the Operation of Processes (7.1.4)

3) Decreased costs

  • Fewer defects and re-work result in lower unit costs
  • Less downtime and breakdowns mean lowered costs for maintenance, spare parts and replacement parts
  • Longer equipment life means reduced capital costs
  • Less waste to process and dispose

Relationship with ISO 9001: better Infrastructure operation (7.1.3), better Environment for the Operation of Processes (7.1.4) and less Nonconforming Outputs (8.7)

4) Decreased waste

  • Fewer defects and damaged equipment parts mean reduced waste for processing

Relationship with ISO 9001: better Environment for the Operation of Processes (7.1.4)

5) Increased visual management

  • Easier to highlight process inefficiencies
  • Easier to detect abnormalities such as work-in-process or to prevent piling up of defects

Relationship with ISO 9001: better Control of Production and Service Provision (8.5.1) and less Nonconforming Outputs (8.7)

ISO 9001 and 5S: How are they connected?

Use both to improve workspace

To summarize the connection between 5S Good Housekeeping practices and ISO 9001, let’s say that implementing 5S is a way of having a methodology to approach how to work with ISO 9001 clauses. It gives you benefits by making it easy to track down and improve workspace inefficiencies. Instead of starting with global planning and only acting long afterwards to see changes in the workspace, 5S allows you to start with results that fuel a feeling of accomplishment very quickly. Implementation of 5S can be done in multiple locations of an organization at the same time, enabling more people to be mobilized and generating a bottom-up force to support the changes required by ISO 9001.

For more help with ISO 9001 implementation steps download this free ISO 9001:2015 Implementation diagram.


About the author:

Carlos Pereira da Cruz has more than 25 years of experience working as a consultant, trainer, and auditor with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. He is a university teacher and author of several books on strategic management, ISO 9001, and ISO 14001, as well as a 9001Academy author.

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