How to Implement Toyota 5s Concept – Step 5 Sustain


This week marks the end of our articles of the 5s concept with the final S, shitsuke. To catch up look through the first four steps: sort, put in order, clean, standardise. The last principle however will help the actions and benefits of 5s be maintained for months and years to come in your workplace. Without this step, the long-term benefits of 5s will never be realised.

What is the 5s concept – Shitsuke?

Shitsuke is to sustain. This last step of the 5s concept is all about bringing together the benefits and actions as implemented as a result of the previous steps, and sustain them into the future. The 5s methodology should not be considered a one off exercise. However fast or slowly the benefits of 5s take to become tangible, the only way your company can truly reap the benefits of the system is to make sure you keep it up.

Shitsuke can also be thought of as the art of sustaining discipline. Becoming undisciplined within a business is only natural, as is shown by looking at the fundamental laws of nature. The second law of thermodynamics states that a closed system will always tend towards a state of disorder. In order to make the system more organised, work will need to be put into the system. The same can be said of a manufacturing organisation. When you put in place the fundamentals of 5s, the organisation and action implemented as a result of it tend to dissipate overtime until the business is as disorder as it started as. The only way to ensure the 5s concept continues is to put work in, i.e. to sustain it.

How to Implement Shitsuke

In order to sustain 5s business practices, a conscious effort will need to be made by workers and management alike. Work needs to be put in at regular intervals to sustain the methodology. This must continue until it becomes integral to your company’s culture.

Managers need to make regular inspections of work areas to ensure the 5s principles are being sustained. For instance, by this point in the 5s methodology all tools used on the work floor should have a set, prescribed place for them to be placed when not in use. Management can therefore go round with a checklist at the end of a working week to ensure all items and equipment are where they should be.

Employees need to be trained to ensure they adhere to the 5s principles, and to continually improve on them. Work will be needed therefore to put on and attend workshops or go through individual actions for each worker to sustain their 5s practices. Ensuring your employees are motivated is crucial to sustaining the methodology. Within a few months of sustaining 5s, each employee should feel as though they truly own their workplace and are responsible for it.

A final way to ensure 5s is sustained is 5s audits. External management should come in every once in a while to inspect the application of 5s in a workplace. This may involve a team working through a particular workstation with a checklist, ensuring all parts of the 5s concept are being sustained. This may involve a scoring system to ascertain and track how each employee is performing. These audits may be weekly or bi-weekly initially, but as time goes by they can become less and less frequent.

Benefits of Shitsuke

One of the greatest benefits of shitsuke to a business is that it helps sustain the benefits of all the other steps of 5s. These benefits may be small at first, but overtime can make a real impact to your company’s operations.

Shitsuke can also lead to improved employee morale in a number of ways. Firstly it promotes a sense of pride and accomplishment if 5s is sustained. It gives employees more faith in management to go through with projects they set out to do. It also leads to a clean, organised workplace.

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