5S Organization set shadow board e2b cal

The second step of 5S organization can be called set, set in order, or straighten. During the set process, a permanent location is established for necessary tools and materials. The reason for dedicating storage areas is to establish consistency. In discrete manufacturing organizations, technicians often use a wide variety of tooling or supplies. Searching for items not only takes time and makes it hard to keep accurate inventories, but causes frustration. In some situations, the inability to find the right resources can impact operation safety. It may take some trial and error, but getting the set step right can improve safety and efficiency.

Think about Safety & Convenience

Before designating locations for items, talk to the people that work in the direct area. Determine work processes, supply use frequency, and necessity. If it hasn’t been done yet, observe how workers use the area. Think about what staging location makes work easier for people in the designated area. For instance, if people have to continually leave the work area to get materials, see if you can move supplies closer. Are safety items in an area that can be accessed quickly?

Be Prepared to Add Items

Although it may seem counterproductive, workers may need some items added to their work space. Most organizations notice that they need extra materials after performing the Set step of 5S organization. Often times these are ancillary tools or additional production materials. This process will decrease instances of shared tooling.

For example, when a company begins operations, sharing tools requires less of an investment in assets. It may be necessary to do this until business increases. As a company grows, sharing resources can put a strain on operational efficiency. If employees have to wait on a tool to become available or search for what they need, this can add up to a lot of wasted time. On an assembly line, this can end up halting production.

5S Storage Systems

To keep items in an easy to find, designated space, companies may need to invest in 5S storage systems. For fasteners or small parts, bins are ideal. Bins have many sizes available with options to color code and label. Tools are often placed on a shadow board or in a foal tool organizer. Both options show a designated space for the tool, and it is easy to determine if something is missing. A shadow board is best for tools that weight less than 20 lbs. Foam tool organizers can be propped up on a table, mounted, or used inside a tool chest. Item sets like sockets or delicate instruments such as pressure gauges are ideal for foam tool organizers.

Designating Flat Areas

When it comes to applying 5S organization principles to a flat surface, tape is recommended. Using color coded tape is helpful for designating areas on the floor, table tops, or desks. Flexible tape is available is a variety of colors. Tape applied to a floor does begin to break down after use. Prepare to reapply annually or biannually.


Best practices for 5S organization stress the need for labeling all storage areas. Any safety items must be clearly marked for quick identification. Labeling helps workers correctly identify materials. This is especially helpful when restocking empty supplies.

5S Organization Testing

Especially for uniform work spaces, it is best to set one area at a time. After the area has undergone the 5S process, test the area for at least one week. Try to rotate workers to collect maximum feedback. Do not make any changes for that week, other than to correct potential safety hazards.

Compare feedback at the end of the week. Were there any common complaints or issues? Were work processes easier to perform? Make any necessary adjustments. Once this step is complete, continue for other work spaces.5S helps make organizations more efficient and enhances safety, but it can be tough to know where to start. Learn more about 5S