5S and a Successful Manufacturing Environment

A time-tested approach to workflow that helps us streamline efficient operations

The 5S approach to organizing a manufacturing environment is not new.  Developed by Japanese manufacturers in the early-20th century, 5S is a method of organizing a factory workspace in a way that it can run more efficiently, and eliminate mistakes, production slowdowns and accidents.

For contract manufacturers like Niche Electronics, this approach is critical. The incredible dynamics and diversity of products we work with requires the constant shifting of assets, work cells, personnel, tooling, and fixtures within the same four walls: the 5s methodology helps us apply structure and flow to this constant shift.

The division of the steps of the 5S method is fairly straightforward:

1. Sort: Eliminate the clutter. Review your manufacturing environment, and identify and remove all unnecessary items and obstacles. This can include machinery, tools, fixtures, materials, and more.

2. Set in Order: Organize what is left. The equipment and tools that remain should be placed in locations that are easily accessible and given fixed positions that allow an easy flow of the manufacturing process.

3. Shine: Clean what you’ve put in place.  Now that the final work environment is set, everything should be cleaned. This means floors, fixtures, manufacturing equipment, tools, etc. The benefit? A clean environment has a positive impact on employee morale and customers’ impressions.

4. Standardize: Make Steps 1-3 part of every operating day. This means establishing schedules to consistently Sort, Set in Order, and Shine.

5. Sustain: Be disciplined in the process.  Staying the course over time is extremely important, and should be supported by training programs, weekly meetings, and periodic inspections to make the entire process successful and second-nature.

In addition to efficiency and safety, the 5S approach to a workplace also lowers defect rates, reduces costs and equipment downtime, and fosters a stronger overall work environment.

Got questions about this methodology, and how it can benefit your project? Just let us know.


Niche Electronics is a leading electronics manufacturing services company that pairs sophisticated capabilities with a uniquely customer-centered approach. For the past 25 years, Niche has crafted high-complexity circuit board assemblies — and built lasting customer partnerships in an array of industries. For information, visit www.Niche-Electronics.com.

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