Set, the Second Step in the 5S Methodology:

Example of Set in order

By Simon Walker, TPC Automation, President

Set, Set in Place, or Set in Order, is the second step in the 5S methodology. It relates to orderliness, sequence, and placement of objects in a logical position.  Here is a deeper dive into this second 5S distinction:

What does Set in Order mean in the 5S methodology?

Set in Order is derived from Seiton (整頓), which means “proper arrangement”. All materials, including equipment, tools and supplies, and as well as all work-related objects should be placed at optimal locations for ease of access by workers in a production environment. 

The objective in the Set in Order step is to be able to lay your hands on any given item, required for work or production, quickly and with ease. Everything should be stored for convenient access. 

How to Set in Order

In a workspace, everything has a place and everything is in its place with a designation and an indication. What this means is, if you have already completed the Sort process, where you have eliminated the items that are surplus and not needed, then what is left over is only the necessary items for the work at hand. Each necessary item will, therefore, be given a place, designated by a shadow, a cut-out or a taped off area that is roughly the same size as the object you are storing. Next to the designated area, there will be an indication. such as a label, that will the person working there where the item goes.

pallets in a warehouse with a box around them and a sign

Considerations in the Set Process

Store tools and materials where they will be used and not far away from the workers that will be using them. The more often an object is used, the closer it should be placed to where it will be used. Conversely rarely used tools and materials should be positioned or stored further away from the work environment. This reduces clutter and increases ease of movement for the most frequent tasks. 

Create ease of access. The path to an object should be unobstructed and logical. Eliminate the need for a worker to bend, stretch, overextend or overexert themselves unnecessarily to retrieve an item. 

If an object is heavy, it should be placed where a worker will not need to twist, maneuver or change direction when handling it. Pathways should also be straight, smooth easy to navigate and clear.

Create Zones for Storage

Define three zones for storage: 

  • FREQUENTLY USED: Put the frequently-used tools and materials right on or at the workbench and ensure they are easy to reach and highly visible (lighting is important here). They should also be easy to return to their spot when no longer needed.
  • DAILY OR MONTHLY USAGE: Tools and materials that are only needed on occasion like daily, weekly or monthly can be kept in a location nearby, but not in the way. Racks are useful for this strategy, where tools are well labeled. Storage cabinets can also be used, but they should be visible from a workstation in a production environment.
  • RARELY USED: Store rarely used tools, parts, and materials away from the shop floor, perhaps in a well-organized storeroom. Use racks and cabinets with clear labels.

Consider Production Sequencing 

When evaluating the placement of tools and materials consider the production sequence. This will suggest where the logical position should be for any given tool or item. Frequency of use can dictate proximity. Bulk and shape will also suggest proximity. A hand tool should be stored above the worker’s waist. A large tool or object can be mounted or placed nearby if used frequently. There should be an easy interplay when a worker switches from one object to another for a task at hand or a sequenced task. All this will lend itself to the logical and efficient placement of items used.  

The Advantages of Set

When the Set step in the 5S methodology is done well, it will result in an organized workflow. Time is reduced in production. Tasks flow into each other. Flow is the objective. What comes out of this process is a new sense of efficiency and ease in which work can be completed. It also reduces stress for workers, provides for a safer workplace, and produces maximum efficiency.