What is 5S ?

5S is a Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) methodology that increases quality and

efficiency in the work environment.

The concept originated in Japan in the 1950s based on five basic principles starting with the

letter S.: seiri, seiton, seisō, seiketsu, and shitsuke.

5S can be applied to all industries and work environments. The aim of the 5S methodology is creating more organized, ergonomic, safe, clean and efficient workplaces. Implementation of this methodology leads to reducing costs, increasing productivity, minimizing loss and waste, and increasing work safety and motivation.

How does it work ?


For this step, take a close look at the items, tools, and materials in a work area. Items that are necessary or useful for the work being done in that space should be kept there. Everything else should be removed.


Each item should be easy to find, use, and return: a place for everything, and everything in its place.


  • Workers who are familiar with the area will quickly notice any problems that arise
  • Hazards or difficult situations will be understood and accounted for
  • Items that are out of place or missing will be recognized
  • Workers will tend to keep their own workspaces cleaner during normal operations


This step is about maintaining the 5S methodology. It is the standardization of practices to ensure the continuity of what was achieved with the first 3S (Sort, Set In Order and Shine).


It is the regular control of the standards and rules determined by the standardization step to ensure the continuity of other steps. It is about self-discipline of the workers and also translates as “do without being told”.

  • For example, the University of Georgia started a lean program in 2009. Using 5S, they reduced the travel distance for processing supplies by 83%, saving $7,000 to $10,000 in labour each year. (Source: http://www.busfin.uga.edu/)
  • Similarly, a hospital used 5S principles to reduce setup time in operating rooms by 37%, and reduced the number of tools needed for some procedures by 70%. On the financial side, the hospital realized savings of about $2.8 million per year. (Source: Journal for Healthcare Quality. September/October 2015. Volume 37, Issue 5)

We would like to call it 6S onboard our ships!

Adding a sixth S for SAFETY.

By Jitesh Godara

3/E, BW Maritime

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