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Sustain, or Self-Discipline: The Final and Critical Step in the 5S Methodology


Sustain is the final step in the 5S methodology. It connects all the steps of the 5S system to maximize potential and efficiency. Here is a more in-depth look at this distinction:

What does Sustain or Self-Discipline mean in the 5S methodology?

Sustain, which is sometimes labeled Sustained Discipline or Self-Discipline, is derived from the Japanese word Shitsuke (躾). The objective of this step is for Sort, Set in Order, Shine, and Standardize to be continuously practiced within the organization. This ensures the company maintains benefits from all 5S steps. 

This step’s success comes from developed habits. Repeat a task or process often, and it becomes automatic behavior. In the 5S system, this is achieved through ongoing observation, training, and evaluation. The goal is for the system to become autonomous. The problem is this is not always easily or instantly achieved. 

Training is Key to the Sustain Step

Training is a crucial part of the Sustain step in the 5S system. Supervisors and managers should ensure employees are receiving continuous training, especially when processes change or evolve. Employees, too, have to take the initiative. It is up to them to ensure they are comfortable with their training and vigilant about completing set tasks.

Management and employees together have responsibility for the Sustain step. The key is for management to continuously communicate to ensure the 5S process is fulfilled. Regular inspections can help support and enforce the standards.

Training of new employees in the 5S system ensures that standards are followed among recruits from their first day on the job. Existing employees benefit from a training program when it is first established and then regular refresher training and updates to any procedures, as needed.

Management Responsibilities in the Sustain Step

In the Sustain step, managers are responsible for:

  • Setting standards and processes, including task lists and schedules for the previous 5S steps.
  • Introducing an audit process for 5S tasks.
  • Create training and certification.
  • Inspecting and enforcing 5S processes as workers learn new procedures.
  • Provide resources, including racks, cleaning supplies, repairs, signage, storage areas, and time allocated for cleaning.
  • Communicating the 5S message.
  • Encouraging continuous improvement by soliciting employee suggestions.
  • Schedule family visitor days to engage employee pride.

Employee Responsibilities in the Sustain Step

Employees are responsible for the following in the Sustain step:

  • Complete tasks as set out by their 5S training.
  • Help each other by visually inspecting each others’ work areas and providing support to each other in following procedures and assisting co-workers where it provides value.
  • Completing all processes and looking to make continuous improvements.
  • Participating and encouraging their work team and fellow employees.
  • Having pride in their work areas and owning the overall accomplishments achieved by following the 5S processes

Through these actions and responsibilities, the 5S processes become a habitual behavior. AS a result, benefits gained in each 5S step are maintained. Dedication to the process from all parties will help realize the Sustain step and the 5S methodology at work.

More Lean 5S Methodology Links

Here are some more helpful links to help you learn about the 5S Methodology: