How to Implement Lean Manufacturing – Sort and Shine (5S): Part 4

Rick Bohan

We’re going to talk later on about the Sort and Shine Sustain Schedule.  That will comprise the regular tasks that the team carries out to keep the area well organized.

Right now, let’s discuss the Sort and Shine Implementation Schedule, which is a bit different.  It’s the schedule of “mini-Kaizens” during which the team will Sort out everything that needs to be Sorted and Shining everything that needs to be shined.  For example, a team might decide that it will work on Sort and Shine every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 2pm to 3 pm. Another area might establish a schedule of every Tuesday and Thursday from 3pm to 4pm.  Another area might schedule every other Wednesday from 2pm to 4pm.

It’s important to schedule enough time each week to actually get the job done.  Sometimes you’ll hear, “Well, we already do cleanup the last 10 minutes of the shift.  We’ll devote that to Sort and Shine.”  It won’t work.  In other cases, a team will schedule the first Monday of the month for 30 minutes.  That won’t work either.  The teams must schedule enough time to really dig into their areas and get them Sorted, then Shined.

During the allotted times, it’s best to go location by location within an area.  In other words, Sort and Shine one location before going on to the next.

The idea is to get everything not needed out of each location, then wipe down, clean up, mop, sweep, paint (if needed), and fix everything that stays in the location.

Why this “mini-kaizen” approach?  Why not carry out the 5S in a full-fledged, multi-staged kaizen.  Well, you can do it that way, of course.  The “full kaizen” approach has some advantages.  You’re getting the 5S done all at once.  There’s no schedule to keep up with.  One and done.  On the other hand, I’ve found that the mini-kaizen approach is very flexible and is a good fit for operations that can’t be shut down for days at a time.


You’ll need a Central Red Tag area somewhere in the plant.  That’s where the teams will put all the stuff  that you Sort out of the areas (but NOT garbage).   It’s also where the teams will put stuff that finds it’s way into their areas that’s not supposed to be there.  The Central Red Tag Area needs to be out of the way, of course, but not so far out of the way that teams can’t get to it or that it’s forgotten.  The Central Red Tag Area also needs to be well marked.

As items are put into the Central Red Tag Area, attach, yes, a red tag to it indicating what it is, where it came from, and when it was put into the Red Tag Area.


You don’t want stuff piling up in the Central Red Tag Area.  It’s not a junk room, after all.  You’ll need to establish a Central Red Tag Committee to dispose of items as they accrue in the area.

The  Red Tag Committee is a small group, usually comprising a production manager, a maintenance manager, an accountant, and and anyone else that seems suitable to review the items that have made their way to the Central Red Tag Area and to dispatch them, i.e., scrap, sell, or re-deploy them.  In other words, the committee’s job is to do something with everything in the Central Red Tag Area.

In the early days of the Sort and Shine phase, the committee will probably need to visit the Central Red Tag Area weekly.  Later, the committee will find it won’t be necessary to meet as often.


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