Tuesday, November 17, 2015


We clean, discard the redundant, put things in order and make our place clean, pleasing and swachh at Diwali. If places of learning keep their place in order and swachh every day they will be able to enhance the productivity not only of their students but thereby raise the productivity of their institution as a whole. One such institution is THE NORTHCAP UNIVERSITY (NCU) which recently organized a ‘swachh department drive’ or as the Japanese say5S system (seiri, seito, seiso, seiketsu, shitsuke).
It is a methodical way to organize the workplace and work practices so that there is continuous improvement of the working environment, leading to enhanced competency of each individual, department and thereby of the institution. The Japanese introduced the system in the 1970s and found it of enormous benefit. It came to India in the1980s, but we still have a long way to go.  The recent call of Swachh Bharat by the Government has certainly focussed the attention of the nation on this important aspect but see how the Japanese achieved it.
‘To change things we have to do things differently’
5S is the foundation for any improvement culture in the work area, whether it be the manufacturing industry or the education industry. It works at five levels.

Level I: Seiri or Sort: Identify and separate the needed from what is not needed. Discard what is not required and remove the clutter. This will save precious time later, when finding something.

Level II: Seiton or Simlify:Needed items stored according to frequency of use, systematically, ‘A place for everything and everything in place, clean and ready for use’. Simplifying arranges the workplace to ensure safety and efficiency. As tools and equipments etc. are limited in the work area and are project-based there is no wastage of time in finding the required material quickly.

Level III: Seiso or Shine: Work area, equipments, files, storage area etc. cleaned and labeled for visual control. Inspect and clean the work area and equipment daily, corrective and maintenance actions should be taken forthwith and performance level of items documented.

Level IV: Seiketsuor Standardize: Make routine check sheets and manuals that are standardized and easy to understand.

Level V:Shitsuke or Sustain: Everyone should be involved in the 5S methodology to prevent backsliding and to foster continuous improvement. This brings in self-discipline and a sense of responsibility and belongingness amongst all the individuals of the institution.

5S is outcome based and, therefore, measurable and what can be measured is achievable - leading to excellence in all teaching-learning processes in an engineering college. It infuses energy, builds team spirit, inculcates discipline, gives clarity of thought and satisfaction of a job well accomplished. When the team addresses problems, they improve the sustainability of 5S and, more importantly, they improve safety, morale, and productivity of all processes. When people see that they have eliminated wasteful practices, removed the clutter, simplified processes, and what they do makes a difference, their pride grows. As they say, “Successful people don’t do different things, but do things differently”. It makes life simple. This is perhaps the greatest benefit of 5S, as a first step in India – Swachh Bharat.
Written by Rekha Mathur

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