Save Time & Money with 5S

5S is one of the tools used in Lean Farming. It is used by Toyota to operate their Just in Time system to ensure people are not wasting time waiting for something or looking for something.

5S refers to the five “S” words used to help create an environment where your team is more productive and does not waste time, reducing business costs.

The five words are:

As the diagram shows this is a continuous process that develops over time. Using this process will help you develop a well organised workplace and set a standard that all of the farm team have to keep to and enable new team members to quickly learn.

This process can be used all around the farm but is particularly of benefit where routine operations are carried out in the same place on a daily or weekly basis or where easy access to equipment is required.

Examples of this are:

• The calving shed where quick access to a calving aid may be needed.
• Cubicle shed where a rake is needed daily for sand beds or a brush/shovel for pushing up feed.
• Workshop where easy access to tools is required.
• Storeroom where everyday items are kept, e.g. paper towels.

If 5S is applied to these areas, when one of the team goes there the equipment they need will be in the same place every time and easy to find rather than having to waste time walking around looking for it.

So how does the process work:

1. Sort: look around the area you are tackling at all the items in there and ask: Do we need them? What are they used for? How regularly do we use them? When were they last used and are they still appropriate to our business now? Then get rid of EVERYTHING you do not need, STOP HOARDING!

2. Set in Order: a place for everything and everything has a place.

3. Shine: in other words, clean the place up and get rid of the clutter and rubbish so you can see what is in the area and where it is. In practice you will probably do this before setting everything in order.

4. Standardise: once you have completed steps 1, 2 and 3 it is essential to create a record of how you expect the areas to be left, i.e. set the standard. This may involve taking a photograph of the different areas and what goes where marking out what item hangs where on a board. If you do not do this the area will very quickly drift back to its old state.

5. Sustain: Keep it going and do not give up. Regular monitoring and discussion are important to ensure the area doesn’t slip back. Delegating different areas to staff members is a good way of encouraging this with opportunities for feedback if other team members are not doing their bit.

This might appear a long-winded process but once you have completed the five steps it is easy to keep the area in the right condition. It will make life easier for everyone, save time, avoid frustration and corner cutting, improve the working environment and ultimately reduce costs.

See how 5S can save your business time and money, please contact Phil at

Posted in Business Management, Sherborne.