In order to understand the connection between 5s and lean manufacturing, it is necessary to understand the two separate concepts. Lean manufacturing is used to describe a process of streamlining the production or manufacturing process in such a manner that every single action is targeted toward effective results and every possible avenue for waste is either limited or eradicated. As such, any activity that is not strictly targeted toward this end will be removed, while 5s refers to a sort of yardstick for implementing the lean manufacturing process. In this sense, it may be said that the connection between 5s and lean manufacturing is the fact that 5s is a foundation on which the entire lean manufacturing process may be built.
This link between 5s and lean manufacturing can be seen in the five factors that make up the concept of 5s. The first factor is to sort out the whole area where the manufacturing process will occur, or in the case of the production of services the area from which the production of services will occur. This procedure necessarily entails a careful analysis of the workplace in order to determine what is and is not needed for the production process. When this determination has been made, the superfluous items can be pruned from the essential, and these will serve as the main tools that will be utilized in the production process.
Another connection between 5s and lean manufacturing can be seen in the application of the second factor in the 5s, which is essentially a requirement to straighten out the work place. What this means is that it will greatly contribute to a reduction in wasted labor if items are placed in an orderly manner so that they are not in the way and so that people know where to find them when they are needed. This is opposed to looking for items in an environment where everything is scattered, an exercise that is not only wasteful of energy but that also leads to time wastage.
The third factor would be for the company to sweep the area, meaning that old or worn out parts and machinery will be changed, and the whole area will be generally refurbished or brought up to modern standards where necessary. For example, if there are new equipment that can help speed up the manufacturing process, the previous equipment can be replaced in order to help in the maximization of the lean manufacturing process. This leads to the fourth factor of standardizing the methods that work best for the organization.The other factor in the 5s is to ensure that the momentum that has been established through the previous steps are sustained and ingrained in the corporate culture of the organization.