Lean manufacturing is a process based on improving efficiency by minimizing waste while maximizing productivity. 5S is one well-known lean manufacturing methodology that relies on five simple steps to create an organized workspace. While the actual steps stem from the Japanese words Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke, they translate loosely to Sort, Straighten, Sweep, Standardize, and Sustain. 

Lean 5S Manufacturing Principles

According to lean 5S manufacturing principles, having an organized workspace will help facilities increase efficiency by reducing unnecessary actions and activities. Proper organization also helps quickly reveal issues and inefficiencies, providing opportunities for further improvements. The five steps to creating a lean manufacturing facility in accordance with 5S are:

  1. Seiri (“Sort”) – Organize and classify the tools and equipment in the workspace; clear out and throw away unnecessary items.  
  2. Seiton (“Straighten Up”) – Arrange the tools in the workspace in whatever way best simplifies operations and produces the most efficiency. 
  3. Seiso (“Sweep”) – Clean and inspect the work area, including all tools in it. 
  4. Seiketsu (“Standardize”) – Create a standardized, easy to understand method of organizing tasks and/or tools throughout the facility.
  5. Shitsuke (“Sustain”) – Take steps to maintain the new protocols and keep the facility clean and organized. 

The primary impacts of implementing the lean 5S principles in your manufacturing facility include clearing clutter, increasing open space, and creating a safer work environment. As a result, facilities improve efficiency by avoiding unnecessary steps, helping employees locate tools more quickly, and reduce downtime. 

Lean 5S Manufacturing Tools

While following these steps can be time consuming, it does not generally require any special equipment or financial investment. However, once you have a clean and organized workspace, certain visual organization tools may be useful to help with ongoing facility and equipment maintenance. Simple additions like signs, labels, and floor markings further simplify the process and help ensure ongoing success with the lean 5S manufacturing process.


By labeling equipment, employees can easily identify the contents of a container, locate the correct tool, and restore items to their assigned places. Use labels and label protectors throughout your manufacturing facility to help enhance workspace organization and efficiency. Use materials like Kaizen foam to create an individual slot for each tool, or make shadow boards with outlines to indicate the proper place for each item. 


Floor markings can help organize an area for products, equipment placement, emergency paths, mobile equipment paths, and more. Floor paint and tape are the most commonly used materials for marking manufacturing floors. 

Floor tape is ideal for marking pathways and outlining equipment storage areas. Select a high-quality tape, like Superior Mark™, which lasts longer in high-traffic areas and resists damage from heavy machinery tires, foot traffic, dragging pallets, and more. Floor marking tape requires less floor preparation than painting and is easy to remove and replace to further optimize your layout as your facility’s needs evolve. 

Floor paint is an excellent option for communicating safety precautions on interior or exterior pavement, concrete, or asphalt. When painting, be sure to use high-quality stencils to create precise, legible markings. 


Visual cues are key to your company’s productivity and efficiency – and your bottom line. With the right visual cues your employees can work faster and work safer. Consider placing adhesive floor signs around the facility to help communicate warnings, direct workflow, remind employees to use personal protective equipment, offer motivation, or any other custom activity

Getting Started With 5S Lean Manufacturing

Are you thinking about implementing 5S and Lean practices for your facility’s workplace floor or work area? While there are hundreds of steps you can take and products we can offer you to fully engage in 5S protocols, there is a definite starting place and a few products that will work best to get you started. Follow the steps above to clean and organize your facility, then reach out to the experts at Stop Painting for help creating a visual organization system that will help employees maintain the facility, follow processes, and continue to optimize operations.