Using 5S Red Tags To Keep A Work Space Clean And Organized

5S red tags are one of the tools used in lean manufacturing to eliminate waste in the working environment. Clutter creates inefficiency; it inhibits the flow of movement, and it can hide needed items. The red tags are used to help get rid of things that are not contributing to the work flow.

A red tag will contain some or all of the following information: The name of the person who is filling out the tag, the name of the item, the reason for removing it, the date for removal, its priority, and any other action required. Once an item is tagged, other employees can decide to keep it or use the item in another work area. If no one wants to keep it, the item will be placed in a red tag storage area until a specified date. If no use has been found for the item by the removal date, it is disposed of – either thrown in the trash, recycled, sold, donated, or auctioned off.

Red tags are part of the 5S system, which are five steps to eliminate waste in a work area. They are as follows:

  • Sort. This step involves identifying the area to be worked on, determining criteria for tagging items, establishing a temporary holding area for items that have been tagged, and evaluating decisions made about tagging. It can be helpful to take a “before” picture at the beginning of this process.
  • Set in order. The next step is to put everything in its place, according to frequency of use, and keep similar things together. Color-coded labels can be used to identify where to store items. An “after” picture can be taken to help everyone remember what the orderly space looks like.
  • Shine. The work space should be cleaned completely. During this phase, decisions are made about who is responsible for cleaning what.
  • Standardize. Now that the cleaning and organizing is finished, the work of maintaining it is integrated into every employee’s daily work. Regular audits are performed to make sure the space stays organized or to quickly correct it if it isn’t.
  • Sustain: Employees and teams who participate in the 5S work are given recognition, and the results of 5S audits keep driving improvement. Red tagging becomes a continuous practice.

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