Commercial / Industrial Properties - The 5S Keys to Success!

Real Estate Sales Representative with Century 21 Miller Real Estate Ltd. 4793863

Finding Your Ideal Commercial / Industrial Building - Part VIII

Welcome back for your newest installment, the 5S keys to organize your new facility!

Locating an ideal commercial / industrial building in your preferred geographic location is a large part of the challenge. Once selected, then its set-up and efficiency of operations come more fully into play. Some words on that subject are offered in this post.



Start with a proven organizational framework, so long-term benefits can be realized!

Introducing Pre-emptive 5S


“Consistency with the right strategic plan is the ultimate key to success. Yesterday's action would never make up for today's procrastination.”

Edmond Mbiaka


What is 5S?

One of the management tools previously mentioned in our series is 5S, and is a tool from the Lean / Six Sigma toolbox. It is used to improve efficiency, layout (organization), cleanliness & safety by following a standardized methodology. Traditionally 5S has 5 steps:

  • Sort
  • Store (set in order)
  • Shine
  • Standardize
  • Sustain

Note that many companies are now also including Safety & Sustainability, as well.


So why is 5S important?

5S is one of the basic starter tools for Lean Manufacturing. Moreover it lays the foundation, not only for a successful company, but also for a more successful corporate culture where everyone is responsible for the success of the company, regardless of their job. In addition to the clean, “tour ready” status, most people associate with 5S, it also has a direct effect on safety. According to Vishnu Rayapeddi, MBA, CSCP, CLTD studies show that introduction of 2S (Sort and Set-to-Order) in 1946 reduced injuries by 56%, while introduction of the next 2S’s (Shine and Standardise) in the early 1960’s reduced injuries by 68% and improved productivity by 360%. When the 5th S (Sustain) was also introduced in early 1980’s injuries continued to reduce (51%) and productivity continued to improve (141%).





What is Pre-emptive 5S?

Moving into a new facility, whether brand new or just new to your organization, presents your company with a unique opportunity – you can proactively consider and organize the layout any way you want (space permitting) without having to consider what the current layout is. This means that, with a little bit of planning you can organize based on the teachings of lean, and more specifically, 5S. This will help your organization be more effective at what you do. In addition you can also increase plant safety & process quality while reducing costs and waste. Talk about your classic win / win situation!

As mentioned above, implementation of 5S also has a positive impact on corporate culture which leads to far reaching and long term effects on sustainability, customer service, and profitability. By starting a new facility with 5S, as an embedded part of its operations, it is both easier to sustain and requires less breaking of any developed bad habits.


The 5S Steps:



The first step of 5S is Sort which basically means to sort through everything in an area and determine what it does, whether it is necessary, who uses it, whether it should be kept and where it should be stored. Some advantages implementing this step include:

  • Identify / find useful (valuable) items and eliminate materials that just take up valuable space
  • Discover, quarantine/contain, plan for & properly dispose of undesirable / hazardous materials
  • Reduction of distractions created by having unnecessary items
  • Identification & cataloguing of items based on usage (frequent or seldom used)
  • Return / install back into place tools, equipment parts, safety components, etc.


If you are setting up a new facility shouldn’t these questions be part of its original layout design?


    The second step is Store (or set in order). In this step you are organizing the layout of each area plus where and how everything should be stored. This is a time to be thinking about such tools as “shadow boards” to clearly define what goes where. Another great little trick is to colour code each area and have a colour band on each tool to show which area it belongs in. This way, if you find a broom with a blue band in a red area, you know it is in the wrong area and can move it back to the correct (blue) area. It also makes it easy to find tools that have gone missing.


Again, much easier at the beginning, rather than trying to implement after the new facility has already started producing product. Benefits realized from this step can include:

  • Time Savings: Quick selection as readily found, and strategically stored close to work station(s)
  • Easier to implement FIFO – (First in First Out), consuming oldest materials first
  • Identify items at their re-order points
  • Improvement of work-flow, lost time in searching
  • Placement optimized based on frequency and urgency of usage


The third step is Shine, or to clean the area and keep it clean. Seems obvious, but this is easier if people have started with this practice right from the beginning rather than trying to get them to change after bad habits have already set in. Indeed, changing ingrained habits and corporate culture can be one of the hardest things for any company to do! So,...

Start as you intend to continue and save yourself a lot of aggravation!

Some advantages implementing this step include:

  • Setting a schedule to ensure cleaning work gets done on a regular basis
  • Can be combined with other duties: e.g. maintenance inspection for wear, lubrication, etc.
  • Clean equipment lasts longer and runs more efficiently
  • Clean floor spaces, tooling and equipment are safer, more pleasing and easier places to work in
  • Irregularities / issues are more readily identified (*), addressed and/or mitigated in well-kept areas. (*) e.g. by workers from other areas / trades / management.



The fourth step is to Standardize or organize. Human nature often concentrates only on current issues and lets slide areas that are not creating problems (“squeaky wheels”). If this is allowed to happen everything you have accomplished with 5S can quickly disappear. Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) help to reinforce these good habits and keep the process moving along. For example the SOP for end of shift may be that the area is sweep or mopped and all garbage cans emptied into an appropriate bin. This can also be used to support a reduce/reuse/recycling culture where everyone is working to reduce waste in the area. Different colour bins for different types of materials is also a great idea.

Check lists and visuals charts are also really good ideas. By setting up and enforcing SOP’s right from the beginning it is much easier to get people to live the culture and to stick to it. Potential benefits following this step include:

  • Identification and the use of “Best Practices”: Safety, quality & efficiency (time & money)
  • Checking and reinforcing optimum work practices
  • Colour coding / materials handling protocols to help reduce confusion / errors
  • Training templates to help ensure operators know the correct method / quality testing needs



The fifth step in 5S is Sustain or ensuring that the process is continued. This is a top to bottom initiative and should be in all departments in the organization (including offices). In order to keep people interested and active in this process you might want to consider visual charts, including 5S results in the annual review process, have regular 5S meetings, include 5S in management meetings and, most important of all, have ongoing 5S training, especially for new employees. This step helps create:

  • The culture or discipline to "do without being told"
  • Training, audits and feedback to monitor and to encourage constant improvements

So there you have it, 5S is an important concept for any organization and pre-emptively building it into the culture and process right from day one is going to make it far easier to introduce and sustain!

Working with professionals to help you address these issues and possibilities will make your life far less stressful as time goes by. Give us a call and let us help you help yourself.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts!



Part VII - Warehouse Layout and its impact on site selection

Part VI - Production Flow and its Importance

Part V - Infrastructure / Accessibility - How Important is it?

Part IV - Cost Is It The Most Important Factor?

Part III - Size Matters!

Part II - Location, Location, Location!

Part I - Finding Your Ideal Commercial/Industrial Building


Contact us when making your next move!


Edward Drennan, P.Eng.  30+ years Industrial / Commercial Experience

Your Trusted Partner in Real Estate  (289)-838-5105


Ed White, CPIM CIRM CSCP CPF 6sigma – Jade Trillium Consulting

Making processes & organizations more effective   (905)-483-5984


Not intended to solicit buyers and sellers currently under contract with another brokerage

Comments (2)

Edward Drennan
Century 21 Miller Real Estate Ltd. - Oakville, ON
Serving the Oakville, Ontario Area

Thank you Livia, glad you liked it!

Nov 07, 2017 05:32 AM