Standardize, the fourth step in the 5S methodology

Standardize - 5S - example

By Simon Walker

Standardize is the fourth step in the 5S methodology. It relates to the standardization of the first three processes in the 5S system – Sort, Set in Order, and Shine. Here is a closer look at the Standardize distinction:

What does Standardize mean in the 5S methodology?

Standardize is derived from the Japanese word Seiketsu (清潔). The purpose of the Standardize step is to obtain the benefit of practicing Seiri (Sort), Seiton (Set in order), and Seiso (Shine) continuously. 

In the 5S methodology, Standardize is the process of implementing the first three steps across all departments of an organization or business. And then, conform to a standard that is consistent throughout. 

Like the first three steps, standardization is an ongoing process that requires the involvement of all employees to be successful. One way to encourage employee involvement is to create a 5S committee to manage and support the system. The committee should consist of leaders from different work areas so that all parts of the company are well represented. 

Establish a 5S Committee

The 5S committee should start by meeting to discuss standardization processes. Working together, 5S leaders and other employees should establish an initial list of company-wide standards. Managers from different work areas should then have the chance to review and approve the suggestions. Once they are approved, the processes should be applied to the workplace. 

New processes must be shared with employees and posted in designated areas around the facility. A great way to communicate these changes is through visuals, such as signage or color-coding. 

Visuals convey information quickly and make it easier for employees to familiarize themselves with new standards and practices. However, employee training should also be provided on any changes to the current system.

Finally, the standards must be maintained, evaluated regularly, and kept up-to-date. Be sure to schedule meetings with all stakeholders to review the system. It is essential to pay attention to redundancies and eliminate unnecessary processes. Additionally, because the Standardize step is an application of the first three steps in the 5S system, each step should also be evaluated individually. This provides a full understanding of standardization needs. 

Benefits of the Standardize Step: 

Here are some benefits of the Standardize process from the 5S methodology:

  • Consistency across all branches of the operation. 
  • Minimizes guesswork. When there is consistency, companies know what to expect and are more prepared to handle problems as they arise. 
  • Ensures that the company continuously reaps the benefits of sorting, order, and cleanliness.
  • Improvement in Morale. Employee input is always considered in all processes of the 5S system. This process demonstrates that the company values and respects worker opinions. 
  • Encourages accountability. Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. Employees are well-trained and understand what is expected of them. 

The Standardize Step Should Be a Flexible Process

Standardization encourages consistency, but consistency does not mean all processes should be the same. In the 5S system, processes are designed to improve productivity and efficiency. If the system is adapted to achieve these goals, then the standards should be adjusted as well. Standarize is never a static process. It must be flexible and evolve accordingly.