The Importance of 5S | The fourth S – Seiso (Shine)
Akinori Hyodo, former Factory Manager, Toyota HiAce Factory | #AskSensei Event 16 Summary | 26 August 2020
The word seiso which is often referred to as shine in 5S literally means “cleaning” in Japanese. As the word suggests, one goes through the process of cleaning in the shine or seiso stage of 5S. But, Akinori Hyodo emphasizes the importance of establishing a standard around the level of shine that you are going to achieve and visualizing the information amongst your organization. Hyodo Sensei explains the reasons as he discusses the fourth S process of shine.
Fourth S of 5S – Seiso (Shine)
In our previous episodes of AskSensei, we covered off seiri, seiton and seiketsu as the first 3S steps and today I will be discussing the fourth S of seiso or shine. I trust the fourth S is the easiest S for you to understand in the whole 5S process since we are all doing this in some way or another on a regular basis. The general definition of seiso or shine is to clean your workplace and to make it beautiful. In the end, what we are trying to achieve through doing the fourth S is to create an environment that is a clean workplace for us to be within.
However, how people regard the state of a “clean” or “beautiful” workplace is different depending on the individual because we all have different levels of experience and knowledge that we have accumulated throughout our lifetimes. Therefore, we need to have a standard in place in order for us to be able to look at a situation in the same way together. If we can match what we have in our heads with a standard to help us determine whether the situation is good or bad, clean or dirty etc., it will help us to create the type of environment we need for us all to work within.
Let me give you an example. In 5S, when we place something in a location, we put a border or marking to indicate the storage location of the item. We do this so that all those concerned can look at the same area and judge the situation in the same way to come to the same outcome. But, when the item you are placing is small, we don’t put a large circle or square around it but rather put a marking just around the item which is appropriate for its size. Likewise, we create rules around the use of the item and the storage location such as not to place the item outside of those demarcation lines, etc. With this simple concept, we can have many people look at the same situation and arrive at the same judgement. When the item is outside the line, for instance, they all will know that is not a correct situation. Since everyone within the same organization has the same judgement criteria, this concept works throughout the organization not only on the manufacturing shop floor but also in the office environment as well.
But to implement the fourth S of seiso or shine, aside from what I have just discussed, you also need appropriate tools. Take a moment here to reflect on your home environment and about your cleaning regime at home. Every household has its own rules as to what, when and how frequently they clean. But, regardless of the approach, most of us have the tools we need to perform those different levels and frequencies of cleaning. The most obvious cleaning tool for most of us is a vacuum cleaner, for example. I believe you can find a vacuum cleaner in almost every home. I don’t think it is written down anywhere that you will need a vacuum cleaner when you walk into a home or buy a house. But, it is a standard we have in our head that we require a vacuum cleaner to clean our home. This is fine at home when it is just for ourselves or for our family but when we transfer this thinking into our work where we have more people working together, we need to write down these things down or make visually obvious that certain tools and items are required and make sure those tools are available for everyone to use.
Generally speaking, who does what type of cleaning tasks on a regular basis is decided at home. For example, while father cleans the bathroom, mother vacuums the floor, etc. When cleaning tasks are divided amongst the family members, this gives each member of the family a sense of responsibility. I believe this thinking also needs to be transferred over to our work place. The more people we have in our workplace, the bigger the need becomes for us to determine the responsibility of cleaning tasks and cleaning areas. Also, these responsibilities need to be clarified visually for everyone to understand.
Getting back to our discussion around the standard of what is regarded as clean and what level of cleanliness we are aiming for, we must set up a certain level of cleanliness that we want to achieve. Once this is determined, there are several ways of reaching that level. If we set our mind to it, it is possible to fulfill the gap and reach the targeted level in one go. Having said that cleanliness is not something that we want to address only once. It’s something that we want to continue to have in our organization. So, rather than reaching out to the target level in one shot, perhaps it is better to step this out over time so that we always keep working at it and we gradually but steadily go through different levels of cleanliness in order to achieve our targeted level.
What I have just touched on is another situation where the PDCA cycle comes into place. PDCA – plan, do, check and act – needs to be applied to the fourth S of seiso or shine as well. As I often point out, nothing is perfect and implementing 5S is no different. In order for us to reach and maintain the targeted level of cleanliness, we must go through the PDCA cycles to work our way to get closer and closer to the target.
In summary, we firstly need to set a standard or targeted level of cleanliness that we want to achieve. One way of achieving that is to do it in one big shot. However, staging it out across a multiple step over a longer period of time is a lot more sustainable way of achieving it. Also, it is important for us to standardize the results of what we are achieving throughout those stages and visualize our workplace accordingly in order to drive shine. It is the people at the lower end of the organization who are implementing seiso or shine on a regular basis as part of the 5S process. But, as I say with various topics in this series, the responsibility sits with those at the top of the organization. They have to have a clear vision and a will to make a good level of 5S happen at their workplace. The success is dependent on how closely they are looking at their workplace to see if things are progressing towards their objectives and if they are checking and following up when they come across any issues. In the end, how people are performing and the results of how their workplace actually looks will be decided on how engaged top management is in this process.
I am sure I have asked you before but why do we implement kaizen? We perform kaizen because we see a problem and we want to improve the situation by addressing the problem. So, we need to be able to recognize a problem in order for us to improve. In other words, when there is a problem, we need to understand that there is a problem. Now, with 5S, we create a standard and when we look at a current situation and compare that with the standard we have created, we can identify whether there is a problem or not. Having a good level of 5S in place is really important before we do kaizen and any intricate levels of lean.
Those higher up in an organization are very keen on looking at the results achieved in production. But, as 5S provides a good foundation required for efficient production, they should also be looking and judging the level of 5S in their workplace so that their workplace can perform efficiently.
When we process benchmarking within our subsidiaries with similar products, we usually share important information with them such as combination charts, production capacity sheets and standard work charts, etc. However, we find it difficult to apply the same 5S standards shared amongst those subsidiaries. Does Toyota share 5S standards between its subsidiaries and do they have a way/standard to share 5S standards?
Let’s have a look at issue from a different angle. As I often point out, behind every phenomenon or outcome, there is a reason as to why it is occurring. So, on this question, I reflect on the reasons why the sharing of these 5S approaches and know how are perceived to be difficult.
I think there are potentially a number of reasons for this. Firstly, the parent company and its subsidiaries may not be sharing the same overall objective and thinking when it comes to implementing a 5S strategy. So, you need to reflect on whether the objective of 5S activities is clearly communicated amongst companies within the group. When you have the type of issues outlined in the question, chances are that the parent company is pushing its subsidiaries to implement whatever activities worked within the parent company without sharing the objective and thinking behind those activities. The parent company also needs to consider the different levels of 5S capability in each of the subsidiaries as well.
When sharing information and applying the same standard are considered difficult, you must also question whether there is clarity around the standard and whether the standard is clearly visualized or not. When you are trying to deploy a strategy not only within one company but also extending it out to across several different companies, you could be dealing with several hundreds if not thousands of people with different ways of looking at the same situation. That’s why having clarity around the standard to be shared and the ability to be able to visualize that standard are two really important aspects to be able to share 5S information and standards well.
I would also like to touch upon the standard work mentioned in the question. The questions states that key documents and information around standard work are shared amongst the subsidiaries but key documents and information around 5S are not really shared. I wouldn’t consider that this should be the case. This is because before you introduce standard work and start sharing the information around standard work, you need to have good 5S in place as 5S provides a solid foundation for standard work to take place.
Let’s reflect on the definition of standard work for a moment. It’s a sequence of work that allows a process to be carried out in the most efficient manner with the least amount of waste while guaranteeing quality and safety. Without the foundation of 5S in place first, you are not going to be able to achieve this definition of standard work.
In the definition of standard work when I mentioned “with the least amount of waste”, I mean that the standard work is carried out efficiently with work steps involving the minimum amount of waste. If you haven’t done the first two steps of 5S process, namely seiri or sort and seiton or set in order, then you would have waste in your work and therefore you won’t be able to establish standard work. This point highlights that 5S should come before standard work.
So, to reflect on why information and standards around 5S are not shared, my response to that is simply they were just not doing it or it was considered as a lower level of importance to them compared to the sharing of standard work information because 5S should come before standard work.
That’s why I believe this gets back to the point which I mentioned at the beginning. This is the case of “where there is no need for an introduction or implementation of certain ideas, no action would be taken”. If people are not seeing or feeling the benefit of introducing the idea of 5S and working with that, they won’t adopt it. So, in the case of the question raised, perhaps there was no need for that sharing of the 5S standards within the group.
As I always say where there is no need or problem, introducing a concept won’t get traction because people won’t see the benefit of introducing it. So, this always get back to the role of management in the higher end of the organization ensuring the objective that they are trying to achieve with the introduction of a concept is clear and following up to ensure that what they are actually doing in the workplace is in line with achieving their objectives. And, if management are not doing that, then management are not doing their job.
To finish off, the best way to share something is to visualize it. We cannot leave everything up to individual thinking in a person’s head. That’s why we use check sheet to confirm things and put those check sheets up so that anyone can see the results of those check sheets. And, always do things in accordance with objectives.
How do we evaluate the different work areas within a factory regarding the level of seiso or shine as part of our 5S audit when how cleanliness is perceived is quite subjective?
First of all, evaluating that level of cleanliness is about setting that targeted level of cleanliness and quantifying that. But, how you go about achieving that target whether in one big hit or you stage it out over a longer length of time is up to the team or organization. But, either way, understanding the quantitative results you are after in each stage and each step in order to achieve that targeted level of cleanliness is important. So, as I have been referring to earlier today, visualizing standards and getting those standards onto a document as a check sheet or a form is important to get these standards out of our heads so that we can look at the same situation and make the judgement on how we are evaluating our level of cleanliness.
What is the exact difference between seiketsu or sparkle and seiso or shine in the process of 5S?
Firstly, the definition of seiketsu or sparkle as we are referring to the third S in our definition of 5S is about maintaining the situation of cleanliness. So, in a broader sense, through the third S process, we are maintaining the state achieved by going through the first 2S steps or seiri and seiton or sort and set in order in our workplace as a whole.
Last week, when we touched upon the seiketsu or sparkle, I really emphasized the importance of promoting safety through seiketsu. That is one reason why seiketsu is sitting before seiso or shine in our 5S definition. As I mentioned, what seiketsu covers is a broader area or scope of a workplace. It’s about keeping the state of cleanliness that first 2S steps created and setting up a safe and comfortable environment on a more general and wider scale.
Moving on to seiso or shine gets into the actual actions and detail about cleaning and shining of specific areas in a workplace. This is our definition and the order of 5S which may be different to what’s generally been seen.
#AskSensei is a regularly-scheduled webinar held together with Shinka Management Senior Lean Consultant Akinori Hyodo, who formerly enjoyed a career with Toyota rising from operator and team leader at Toyota, right up to factory manager and director of Toyota’s HiAce Factory. Each event we cover a different topic related to lean, with participants invited to put their questions to Hyodo Sensei.
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