How to Use Shadow Boards for 5S


In a production environment, one of the biggest competitive advantages is eliminating waste. What does this mean? Reducing waste isn’t just referring to reducing scrap. Waste refers to all actions and resources that aren’t value-added or required. Shadow boards are a good way to align lean manufacturing goals by eliminating waste.

You may ask, “How does organizing decrease waste?” Proper tool organization has the greatest effect on wasted motion – which leads to wasted time. Wasted motion refers to the motion of a technician or manager that does not directly contribute to job completion.
How much time is spent for each, individual piece of tooling or equipment that a technician, maintenance worker, or operator to locate what they need? Although times are highly variable due to facility differences in size, tooling procedures, and workforce, many companies find that searching for tools can delay the start of work orders by over 75 minutes per 8 hour shift. The best way to determine the actual impact at your company is by performing a time-motion study.

Ease of Location

After the realization of how long it can take to track down tools, many companies became open to the idea of organization. The best way to organize tools is using a system that is simple and sustainable. Shadow boards are one of the best ways to accomplish this because they are visual and free of guesswork. Shadow boards are also incredibly convenient because they can be placed near workers or machines on the wall, or even in tool boxes.

Sort, Set, Sustain

Shadow boards are clearly aligned with 3 of the 5 key principles of the 5S methodology. e2bcalibration_howtouseshadowboardsfor5s

Sort refers to removing clutter. Shadow boards only include space for the needed tools and equipment, nothing extra. This eliminates clutter because there is no space that is available to place additional items.

“A place for everything and everything in its place” is the motto for set. By “setting” a place for items, each item has a known physical location and label (if necessary). The key here is consistency. By having a specified space for each item, employees can find that item directly – without unnecessary searching.

Sustainability is the keystone of any change. The goal is to keep employees using the systems and processes that have been set in place. Shadow boards are one of the easiest methods to sustain. After creating the board or tool organizer, employees need to become comfortable with the new system. This can typically take up to 4 – 6 weeks, depending on how often tooling is used).


Whether you have already implemented a 5S system or are just trying to get a more organized workspace, consider using shadow boards. Whether you choose a wall-mount option, foam organizer, or both, they can help you meet organizational goals.


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