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5S for Warehouses and How it can Benefit You

Having a system can benefit any business, but it’s especially helpful in efficiently and safely running a warehouse. The 5S system keeps a warehouse organized and makes potential issues more easily identifiable. 

5S can be implemented in any warehouse of any size. This system is about analyzing your space, removing obstacles and extras items, and reorganizing into a clear layout where everything and everyone has a place. Let’s take a deeper look into 5S, its benefits and how you can implement it into your warehouse.


What are the 5S for warehouses?

5S consists of five basic principles: sort, set, shine, standardize, and sustain. The idea behind the 5S is to create a system that keeps tools, people, stock, and processes organized to improve efficiency and safety, among all the other benefits. By having a pared-down, clean, and organized area, your warehouse can run at its best. Here are the five areas of 5S:

Sort. While sorting your stock and supplies is important, sort is also about your overall warehouse layout and making sure it’s appropriately organized. Your warehouse needs to work for all employees. After the larger area has been organized, it’s time to look into each individual workspace. Take the time to think through the processes that take place in each space and decide if the right furniture, tools, and supplies are there. Remove any extra items to reduce clutter and potential confusion.

Set. Now that the warehouse is organized, it’s time to put systems in place to keep it that way. Some warehouses color code or label tools so team members know where they are and where they go back to when the employee is finished using them. Labeling shelves for stocking is another suggestion to keep your system set and usable for anyone.

Shine. Cleaning is an important step to keeping your warehouse working. This is a good reminder to keep each workspace clean — floors mopped and swept, workspaces wiped down, and tools and supplies clean and put away. Shine also pertains to equipment maintenance and making sure all equipment is in working order. During busy times, cleaning and maintenance can easily fall by the wayside. Set a regular reminder to make sure these things get done on schedule. You can plan to take advantage of any slow periods by scheduling deep cleanings during these times. To make sure all employees understand the importance and expectations around keeping a neat and clean warehouse, consider adding this to employee onboarding.

Standardize. Now that the space is ordered and clean, put procedures in place to help your warehouse stay this way. Standardize makes sure the 5S system becomes the way things are done around the warehouse and is not a one-time effort. By making a checklist or adding these items to existing task lists, you and your team will internalize the work that needs to be done and it will become the expectation at your warehouse.

Sustain. To make the 5S work in your warehouse long-term, you’ll want to make sure these five steps are being carried out and update them as necessary. Continue to see how the systems and areas you and your team put in place are working. Reach out to workers to see if they have suggestions. Adopting the mindset of continuous improvement will help you, your team of employees, and your warehouse be a success.


What are the benefits of 5S for warehouses?

5S takes some time and dedication to implement in any warehouse. But proper attention given upfront will yield many benefits.

A key part of 5S is getting rid of extra items and streamlining processes. These two actions will improve efficiency in your warehouse. By having only the tools and supplies needed in a workspace, employees won’t waste time sorting through clutter to find what they need. As part of 5S, you will create processes for storage, and this will help employees know where things go and where things can be found.

Cleanliness is important to a 5S system and critical to a safe warehouse. A clean warehouse is one where potential hazards can be quickly identified and corrected. This improves safety for your team and keeps your warehouse working.

A safe, efficient warehouse is a productive one. The organization and cleaning lend themselves to creating processes that keep this system in place. Clear processes help employees know the expectations and know their roles. These all add up to more productivity in your warehouse.

Implementing 5S can impact your bottom line, making your warehouse a more profitable one. The 5S is a system you can start right now. If you are looking for professional assistance in assessing your space and workflow, ISS Material Handling has years of experience in many different industries optimizing warehouses. We have a collaborative process to make recommendations for better utilizing any space.


How to implement the 5S in a warehouse

While there are ways to implement 5S in your warehouse yourself, sometimes having a professional and objective opinion is helpful. When you start with sorting, you and your team will best know the tools and supplies needed in each area. Working through the workflow of your warehouse and optimizing your warehouse space are two areas where professional consultants can be brought in.

With straightening, it’s about finding a place for each item. There are many storage solutions that can help you use your valuable floor space optimally. Drawers and cabinets can store tools and parts of many sizes. Shelving can provide storage options for stock. These storage solutions can be labeled so team members know what belongs where. Professional consultants have access to many different types of storage options and can help you decide what will work best in your warehouse.

Shining your warehouse is a constant step — from deep cleaning to daily tidying to regular maintenance. This is a good opportunity to make sure all team members are taking ownership of their areas and working together to keep the warehouse clean and safe.

While you are implementing 5S, it’s critical to think about how these steps can become part of the routine at your warehouse. By standardizing these expectations, they will all become a part of how things are done. You can help your team do this by adding labels to cabinets, drawers, and shelving so anyone can tell where things go. Some warehouses find it helpful to add lines on the floor to show pathways or designate areas.

Finally, you want to make sure any changes or new processes are sustainable. Include team members while implementing this system so they are invested in it as well and can help train other employees. It’s also important to be open to improvements.

While it’s a big undertaking, the 5S system can help your warehouse be more efficient, safer, more productive and, as a result, more profitable. Trusted partners like ISS Material Handling can help you and your team to make the most of your space to streamline your processes. Our team at ISS Material Handling has years of experience helping warehouses in many different industries. To learn how we can help optimize your space, contact us today.

About the Author

Tom Compton


Tom Compton is the President of Industrial Shelving Systems (ISS) and retains an active sales role with both ISS and ISS Material Handling. Tom is a seasoned professional who has been working in the industry for over 10 years. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Mizzou, where he honed his expertise in designing and analyzing mechanical systems. Tom has continued to show his dedication and excellence in the field by earning a 6 Sigma Green Belt. When Tom is not working, he spends his time with his family and friends. A devoted father of three children, he also is an avid sports fan and enjoys playing hockey and golf in his free time. He is also passionate about NHRA racing and follows the sport closely.

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