The new year is finally setting in, and not without several New Year’s Resolutions from our team here at Leading Edge Industrial. With our new building comes a myriad of new opportunities to grow our company, and increasing organization and efficiency within our shop is one of those! Of course, in doing this, we want to share the knowledge we’ve gained with our faithful followers! As such, we’ve compiled a few helpful tips to help you incorporate 5S, Kaizen, Kanban, and Lean principles into your everyday workplace or classroom for better organization and efficiency. Let’s get started.


5S is a workplace organizational method originating in Japan which focuses on five key principles: sort, set in order, shine/sweeping, standardize, and sustain. The goal of this framework is to organize and maintain a workspace for efficiency by progressing through the five stages. Sorting involves identifying which items are necessary in the workspace and eliminating unnecessary obstacles and waste. Next, the remaining tools and resources are arranged, or set in order, so that they can be easily found and accessed. The shine/sweeping step relies on regularly cleaning and inspecting the workplace to ensure safety and comfort, while standardizing prioritizes clearly defining best practices, guidelines, and color coding. Finally, the sustain step can be summarized as “do without being told”. The focus here is training and discipline of the workforce and all established standards. With these steps in mind, you can get any space organized and efficient with ease!


Also developed by the Japanese, Kaizen is a system of continual improvement which can be applied to business, manufacturing, and other professional settings. 5S is actually a subcomponent of Kaizen, which functions as an overarching philosophy for improving a workplace. Other principles that are integral to Kaizen include the concepts that good processes bring good results, that one needs to see for themselves to grasp a situation, that problems need to be addressed at their root cause, and the importance of working as a team. Kaizen’s five primary elements are improved morale, teamwork, personal discipline, suggestions for improvement, and quality circles, which are groups that meet to discuss quality levels.


Kanban is a scheduling system, specifically an inventory-control system. A key element of this system is the use of Kanban Cards, which function as signals that a material or component needs to be moved into or throughout a facility. Toyota has developed six fundamental rules for the implementation of Kanban: Kanban Cards are always attached to goods, no items can be created or moved without an accompanying Kanban, early processes produce items according to the quantity and sequence specified by a Kanban, later processes reference the Kanban for how many items to pick up, defective products are not sent to further processes, and sensitivity can be increased by reducing the number of Kanban.

Lean Principles

Lastly, there are five lean principles which define the concept of lean manufacturing, intended to reduce waste and inefficiency in manufacturing operations. These are value, value stream, flow, pull, and perfection. Value reflects what the customer needs in a given product, including aspects such as delivery expectations and price point. After establishing value, the entire process of creating a product needs to be mapped out to identify wasteful steps and eliminate them. Next, the remaining steps need to be assessed for any potential disruptions in flow, such as bottlenecks or delays. Successful implementation of these steps allows reduced time to produce goods, in turn enabling the delivery of products as needed, also known as a pull approach to manufacturing. Lastly, the perfection step emphasizes applying these principles to company culture, so as to maintain and preserve the success of that lean system.

While building towards an organized and efficient environment may seem daunting, we hope that these frameworks have helped you realize a plan that allows you to improve your workspace with clear goals and steps in mind. 5S, Kaizen, Kanban, and Lean Principles are all common practice in the manufacturing industry, and bringing them to your workspace should be a worthwhile investment towards helping it run smoother and quicker than ever before! Here’s looking forward to what the year brings!