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Japanese 5S management system

Japanese '5S system' in an aluminium foundry - better control, fewer injuries

The Problem

A large aluminium foundry identified slips and trips as being a significant risk to employees. This was mainly due to poor housekeeping and poorly maintained machinery leaking oil etc onto the floor. Realising the scale of the problem the company set about implementing a programme of cost effective improvements based on a Japanese system of workplace controls.

The Solution

Ensuring that pedestrian routes are unobstructed.

Ensuring that pedestrian routes are unobstructed.

The size of the premises meant that improving housekeeping would not be an easy task. However the company was able to make substantial improvements by implementing the '5S Philosophy'. The system is based on 5 Japanese words which when translated mean Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardise and Sustain. Once implemented, the system aims to eliminate unnecessary items from the workplace, improve order and tidiness (making sure everything has a home), maintain a clean workplace, ensuring that a workable system is in place and that these improvements are sustained.

In addition to the obvious improvements in housekeeping, savings were also made as fewer items were lost. Obsolete equipment was more likely to be discarded thus increasing storage capacity. In addition the company reduced slipping and tripping hazards by removing training cables, demarcating pedestrian routes, introducing non-slip surfaces and reducing walkway contamination at source.


 Non-slip floor covering on walkways

Non-slip floor covering on walkways

The company have been using the 5S system as part of a 'Total Productive Maintenance' system and this has evolved over the past 8 years. Although it has been difficult to quantify, the benefits of using 5S are apparent.


Everything in its place.

Everything in its place

It is clear that by successfully implimenting better standards of control over the workplace and it condition the risks of slipping and tripping can be reduced. However there are other noticeable benefits. Financial savings can be made by improving maintenance and reducing production downtime. Working days lost due to injury from slipping and tripping accidents are reduced. This company also reported an increase in morale and consequently productivity, as it was clear that employees appreciated the improvements made to their work environment.