The 5S method for an efficient stock management

Posted on December 7 2022

Reading time: 4 minutes

Do you sometimes feel that your company lacks organization and prevents you from working efficiently and securely? Here is the solution for a better inventory management!

Steps for 5S method

Also known as Lean manufacturing, the 5S methodology is of Japanese origin and was created for the production of Toyota factories. It focuses on the use of several tools to maximize efficiency by creating an ergonomic, clean and organized work environment. As simple as it may seem to you, the 5S methodology is the best system you can refer to in order to consistently achieve favorable and excellent results. 

Now let’s dig a little deeper!

What is the 5s methodology? 

The acronym 5S refers to 5 Japanese practices, seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, shitsuki, which can be translated respectively as sort, tidy, clean, standardize and maintain. However, it is possible to find different translations. 

The 5S are the 5 operations that follow from the method:

Japanese word

Related actions 


Sort, throw away, recycle, dispose of and place work tools according to their frequency of use. 


Tidy up, classify so as to reduce the need for physical movement or carrying heavy objects, optimize the use of space.


Clean, repair.


Standardize your documents or workstation so that another person can find them.


Respect and apply the 4 previous operations and maintain them over time.

 Here is a breakdown of the 5S: 


This step requires the collaboration of all the employees. How is that ?

Simply put, this step consists of sorting or going through materials, furniture, equipment, materials, and tools you have in the workplace. The purpose behind all of that is to : 

  • Determine and keep what is needed
  • Eliminate and remove items that are not used. At this phase, employees can contribute by putting on red stickers/tags to identify them.
  • Classify items by frequency of use, so that infrequently used equipment doesn’t take up space. Again here, employees are the best to answer your ”how” and “which items are more used than others” questions.
  • Organize items in the right place in an ergonomic way allowing easy access to them, and less effort for employees to look for them. Isn’t that a saved time that can be used otherwise efficiently? 

2.Set in order: 

As you may have understood, set in order is really just organizing the items sorted in the first step. That being said, this step is more about properly and neatly putting items in the right place. So, how to set everything in order?

  • Start by evaluating and analyzing the workflow process. This will give you an idea on your employee’s motions and movements to quickly find the items they need. This step also ensures their safety, and minimizes the risk of injuries thanks to the logical arrangement.
  • Organize items in a way to reach the most used ones easily.
  • Place heavy items at a height that is not risky.
  • Use visual cues and hints to identify where items are located. It can be tags, labels, or a workplace map.
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3. Shine: 

Now that everything is sorted, and set in order, it is time to make the workplace shine brightly through implementing a cleaning program.

In fact, leaks, damages and many other problems can occur at any business warehouse. Therefore, it is essential to identify them as quickly as possible. One way to do so is to:

  • Clean the work area on a regular basis. This is not the most exciting stage of the process, but it is one of the most important ones. Sweep, mop, dust, and vacuum to ensure the best operating conditions.
  • Along with cleaning every day, make sure to keep an eye on all the machines, as well as the equipment, and maintain them to inhibit any possible breakdown that may slow the operations process.

4. Standardize: 

If the first 3S were rule number one; rule number 2 would be ‘never forget rule number 1’, and this is what standardization is about. In other words, standardizing is making sure that sorting, setting in order and shining become habits for all the employees, especially when there are several shifts. 

  • Utilize visual management techniques, by hanging photos of the cleaned and organized areas on the walls. This would work as a visual reminder, and a cleanliness standards to which they can refer anytime. 
  • Clearly define roles and responsibilities for employees, so that they all contribute to keeping the workplace as shiny as it should always be. They can either include those tasks in their calendars, and switch them on a weekly basis for example, or establish a specialized schedule and a checklist.

5. Sustain:

Sustainability is the key! This is the last step of the process, and the toughest one. So, what is the 5th S? Sustain is simply implementing this process for a long-term, instead of considering it as a one-time effort. To do so:

  • Implement 5S methodology as part of the company’s culture and core values.
  • Take the time to train the employees about the importance of the 5S methodology.
  • Organize regular audits and periodic check-ins to improve the process, and make changes if necessary. 

What are the benefits of the 5S methodology?

Here are the top 5 benefits derived from implementing the 5S methodology:

Increased productivity and profitability 

5S methodology helps remove clutter and organize the workplace in an ergonomic way, allowing employees to perform efficiently, and effectively their tasks. As a result, profitability increases as well. 

Cost and delay reduction

Until the work environment is neatly organized and clean, it is quite difficult to achieve good results, and meet deadlines. Having said that, and because the 5S methodology enables quick problems detection and abnormalities identification; managers and employees have then enough time to fix them, saving them storage management costs.

Improved safety:

 The 5s methodology helps craft a safe work environment that minimizes the risk of accidents and injuries, as it takes into consideration the workflow process in the organization. 


Because the 5S methodology requires the collaboration of all the employees, they learn to collaborate and work together more as colleagues rather than competitors, which improves their morale, and instills a positive attitude. After all, a happy employee is a loyal employee! 

Optimized space and stock

During the sorting, and the setting in order phases, unnecessary and unneeded tools are thrown away, and removed from the workplace, creating more space that can be optimally utilized for storage, and reducing waste in the inventory.

How can Hector help you?

The 5S method allows you to reduce unnecessary pieces of your inventory. Once the sorting of your work tools is done, by pairing this method with an inventory management software like Hector, you will be able to easily keep an eye on your inventory and your office material and thus reduce the loss of your material. 

You will find that your productivity, motivation, safety and the quality of your work will be greatly improved, as downtime will be eliminated.