Book Review

5 Pillars of the Visual Workplace
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5 Pillars of the Visual Workplace

The Sourcebook for 5s Implementation

By: Hiroyuki Hirano, Bruce Talbot (Translator)

Hardcover: 377 pages
Dimensions (in inches): 0.96 x 11.34 x 8.80
Published by: Productivity Press
Publication Date: February 1995
ISBN: 1563270471


  • Chapter 1 - Why are the 5S's necessary?
  • Chapter 2 - Foundation for Corporate Survival
  • Chapter 3 - Overview of the 5S's
  • Chapter 4 - Introducing the 5S's into the Workplace
  • Chapter 5 - The First Pillar: Organization
  • Chapter 6 - The Second Pillar: Orderliness
  • Chapter 7 - Visual Organization and Visual Orderliness
  • Chapter 8 - The Red-Tag Strategy
  • Chapter 9 - The Signboard Strategy
  • Chapter 10 - The Third Pillar: Cleanliness
  • Chapter 11 - The Fourth Pillar: Standardized Cleanup
  • Chapter 12 - The Fifth Pillar: Discipline
  • Chapter 13 - Case Studies from Four 5S Campaigns

Our Review

In this sourcebook, Japanese consultant Hiroyuki Hirano describes the 5S's of Total Productive Maintenance: in Japanese they are seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke (which translate as organization, orderliness, cleanliness, standardized cleanup, and discipline). Hirano discusses how the 5S's may be used as a rationalization process in all areas of the company, from the plant floor to the sales office.

The first chapter aims to outline why organizations should use the 5S approach - this chapter largely consists of snippets of examples from various organizations that Hirano has worked, and while each of these is interesting, this chapter did not overwhelmingly convince me of the financial benefits of the approach, compared with the cost of implementing it - nowhere in this book will you find discussion of the cost-benefit ratio of implementing 5S. Nevertheless, this chapter does include some interesting examples of reasons why people resist implementation of 5S - and ways to overcome this resistance.

Chapter 2 describes the 5S's as being the foundation upon which other improvement-related blocks are placed, and suggests a 5 step process (of which 5S implementation is the second step) for generating operational improvements.

Chapter 3 provides an overview of the 5S's, and Chapter 4 then describes a process for implementing 5S. Throughout this chapter (and subsequent chapters) there are numerous checklists, forms, diagrams, and practical implementation tips. For those looking for some practical assistance in implementing 5S, these checklists and forms may on their own be worth the purchase price of the book.

Chapters 5 and 6 describe the first two of the 5S's - Organization and Orderliness. Organization basically means identifying those things that are needed to meet immediate production requirements, and scrapping or removing the remainder. A technique for achieving this - the "Red Tag" strategy - is outlined here, and described in more detail in Chapter 8. Orderliness, on the other hand, basically means standardization - ensuring that there is a proper place for everything, and that everything is in its proper place. Another tool for achieving this - the signboard strategy - is outlined in more detail in Chapter 9.

Chapter 10 describes the process for ensuring that factories and equipment are cleaned, and kept clean. Once again (as in all of the chapters of the book) there are examples, checklists and forms that can be used as a guide for those wishing to implement similar systems.

Chapter 11 describes Standardized Cleanup as being "the state that exists when the first three pillars - Organization, Orderliness and Cleanliness - are properly maintained. This means putting in place processes and techniques that prevent deterioration of the first three pillars, and once again, various practical tips and checklists are included in this chapter.

Chapter 12 describes Discipline as being "making a habit of properly maintaining correct procedures". Five ways of developing discipline are described, and 15 practical tips are also provided in this chapter.

The final chapter concludes the book by providing samples of timetables, checklists, forms and other resources from 4 separate 5S campaigns - once again, these would be extremely valuable for those wishing to implement 5S.

If I have one small quibble with this book (with my Maintenance hat on) it is that several of the examples relate to implementing 5S in an office environment (one section describes how to set up a document filing system, for example) - many who are implementing 5S in a factory or plant environment may find these examples to be irrelevant. But overall, this is a useful, and practical book which many will find valuable.

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