5S? More like 3S Actually

I recently started working with a Japanese corporate here in NZ, who although expert exponents of continuous improvement in the home country, need a little help and guidance in the land of the long white cloud.

I was duly informed that they wanted the original version of 5S, which is actually 3S, us westerners having changed it up to suit our culture.

Here is a short piece on my observations from a visit to Omron Japan.

Omron, focus their teams attention on 5S with Kaizen improvements.

As we know Kaizen is everybody, everyday and everywhere improvement and 5S is one of those tools that can help address issues to improve workplace organisation, create customer value and improve safety.

Omron have a very simple philosophy. They don’t believe in 5S, but merely 3S! they also claim that this is one of the cornerstones of their corporate culture “for over a decade”!

In their eyes, these are the Omron 3S’s

Seiri (Sort) Put only things necessary within the next 4 hours out in the workplace. Anything not used at all is to be disposed of. Anything used occasionally can be stored in the warehouse.

Seiton (Straighten) Those things that are used frequently are to be organised so that necessary components can be taken out within six seconds as they’re needed.

Seiso (Shine or Scrub) Thorough Seiso such as daily floor cleaning by all team members

So there we have it, the Omron 3S’s. Which is part of the decade plus long habit of maintaining high performance workplace organisation…world class!

The figure below shows the number of 3S Kaizen ideas implemented year on year…

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