Seiri: To Sort Things Out

Seiri simple means to order things in a workplace. It is the sorting out of the required materials, commodities or equipment within an organization. The focus of Seiri seems to rest on the most appropriate physical organization of any work premise. This can only be achieved by working out a procedure of putting various physical commodities in their most appropriate location.

On another level, Seiri is known as a part of the 5S method. Workplace organization has significantly benefited from the concepts held in the 5Ss. The 5Ss work hand in hand to help companies and individuals in workplaces to organize their working spaces and to attain high levels of efficiency. The order achieved has to be maintained and sustained over time to keep the organization productive, safe, and sustainable.


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Seiri in 5S

Seiri, being a Japanese word, has the English equivalent of tidiness. According to the Japanese, it is in the context of doing away with any junk and unwanted things in a workstation. Those who adopt the concept should not feel discouraged or demoralized after the disposal of all unwanted materials from their various workplaces. This process is aimed at ensuring that materials left within the vicinity of the workplace are only those that are functionally important. This is the central proposition of this stage in the 5S methodology.



Alternative tools are also supposed to be moved away from the working stations when you focus on reducing the number of materials in the working place. This is in line with keeping the workplace materials to the absolute minimum. By doing this, the tasks being performed at the various working spaces will be minimized due to the efficient usage of space. The tasks done will also be simplified since obstructions are minimized.

Seiri in Other Industries

Currently, several sectors are actively using Seiri's concept under the 5S methodology. Having been developed in the manufacturing sector, the use of this essential step is now being utilized in healthcare, parastatals of states and government, education amongst others. Other physical areas where Seiri has come in handy include the technology sector, Information dissemination by the media, information analysis, and software managements sectors. Health care seems to have been the greatest beneficiary, with the treatment of chronic problems taking a center stage in the utilization of the methodology.

Goals to Achieve With Seiri

Seiri can be accomplished by fulfilling the removal of obsolete and non-functional things. The other goal is to reduce or if possible totally dispose of waste effectively.

Any commodities or goods that prove to be redundant in a working space needs to be eliminated. Any value that is attached to them may be rendered unnecessary, and hence need to be shelved from the workstation. For instance, in the factory, some machines are brought in to serve a specific purpose, but end up becoming permanent. They do become a hindrance to work or even free movement of goods and people. This is why Seiri's goals require that this must be checked and corrected.

Why Sort Things Out

Seiri comes out strongly in recommending the proper allocation and physical disposition of materials and physical appliances at the working space. Now, why should we sort things out? Why shouldn't we just let them be, and life goes on? Let's have a look at some of the important reasons that compel us to have things ordered up in our working areas.

We need to sort out things to create efficiency in our places of work. Moving objects from where they are not needed is a vital process that cannot be downplayed at any juncture. Obsolete or things that are no longer useful need to be disposed to create room for more important and current issues. This applies in technology with computer storage, warehouses, offices, shops, malls and most importantly the factories.

Here are some reasons for doing away with unwanted materials and objects.

  • Create space for productivity in business premises
  • Get access to different items faster and conveniently
  • Move less bulk on the way since unwanted objects become obstacles on the way
  • Reduce renting expenses by going for less commercial business rooms

How to get Started with Seiri in 5S

The 5S method is comprehensive. However, let us pay close attention to Seiri, being the first component. How do you get started with Seiri? How do you go about with matters sorting out the workplace entities? Seiri points to the keeping or organizing things using a specific order and guidelines. At the very beginning then, you will need to do some stratification, so as to achieve ordered results. This is all about sorting out the important things in your workplace while setting aside those that are not so important.

You can do it procedurally as follows;


When planning to sort things out, you'll want to come up with questions to guide each team. Each team should be designated an area that the factory or workplace can review. You'll want to come up with a training plan so the teams will know what they need to do. Lastly, Allocate a timeframe for planning this stage out.

Categorize the Items

It is now time to group the commodities using a kind of stratification method. The three groups here could preferably be first the Items that are used on a daily basis, followed by those used occasionally and finally those that have become obsolete and are no longer needed.

The sorting should also pay attention to other general rules. Goods that can be cleaned or named in a similar manner can be put together. The piles that you come up with should give distinct identification and easy retrieval. For instance, in an office, files can be placed into one pile, other stationery stacked into a particular locker, books be piled on a table while documents are also kept in the closet. In a shop, accessories can be stacked into a specific corner, hardware can be hung from the wall, and the counter is kept clear. All this should be aimed at enhancing easy retrieval, with due consideration to the times they are required.

How Seiri Increases Your Efficiency

The disposal of the no longer useful material now takes center stage. Any commodities not needed should be disposed of! This is better than having to face a situation where you turn over materials that are obsolete while looking for useful ones. This even applies to technology.

Any unwanted information may be occupying a significant space on the computer memory hence becoming a hindrance in retracing useful information. Such chunk information needs to be moved to the recycle bin to allow free up space for more useful information. The retrieving information will be easier hence increase efficiency at work.

While doing the task of eliminating unwanted materials, you may ask yourself pertinent questions whose answers give the accurate decision that we ought to make. We need to look at the safety measures involved so as not to hurt people nor destroy the surrounding environment.

You are also supposed to ensure that you have the right tools that must be in good condition since damaged ones are likely to do shoddy work. The maintenance of the various products is also something of interest. Machines, for instance, in the factories have their fixed maintenance periods which if not observed pause health risks to their users. Such machines should be kept until such a time that they will be functional, with minimal risks to their operators.

Worker Responsibility

Personal responsibility needs to be considered when observing the disposal mechanisms. For example, dirt or garbage on the road, pavement or workstation proves to be a hinderance to performance. The collective responsibility which requires that the person nearest to dirt rectifies the situation makes the process simple. Whenever duties are left to particular people, there is the likelihood that dirt and garbage will accumulate at a specific place for a long time. Everyone needs to be involved.

It should be observed that cleaning, organizing and any of the 5S processes is not a one-time event. The exercises need to be repeated over time because some of the useful entities tend to become obsolete with time. There needs to be an update, and a follow up each time, to ensure that situations are corrected. If these steps are followed, the workstation will maintain its efficiency and productivity.

Benefits of Using Seiri

Sorting out stuff has advantages that can be seen on its completion. The whole 5S process does not have to be completed for you to see the benefits of taking up the first process.

When your items are sorted out, you save time not having to look for lost or forgotten materials and you'll also save on re-ordering costs.. You'll find your tools and spare parts easier when all the clutter has been removed. It is faster and safer to move product around after clutter has been removed.

You'll will have more space and more room to do their job effectively and efficiently. Workers will have an increase in moral because of this.

Easy Identification of Commodities and Materials

Since we can do away with unwanted materials at the workplace, it becomes easy to identify any material you want to use. This will reduce the time spent looking for specific items or even reduce the workforce required to do follow ups on them. The positive energy that could be used to trace them can be utilized elsewhere.

Finding Misplaced Materials

Some materials are usually thought to have been lost or stolen when they are actually within the confines of the workplace. With the adoption of Seiri under 5S, no materials will go missing when they are still in the areas of work. It will also be quicker and safer to access any materials when you know their exact location.

It becomes more convenient to make any repairs.

Arranging all goods and materials on their usage and condition gives an accurate data of functional and obsolete things within a working space. Those that are damaged can also be identified and put in one place where they can be serviced with ease.

Better Quality of Work at Workplaces

Employees are likely to be more motivated when they work in an organized environment. Having dealt with issues like cleanliness and safety, bosses will have created a good rapport with their juniors. With all those developments, Seiri indirectly improves the quality of work in the various workstations.

To learn more about 5S​ the next step is Seiton.​

Author: Eric Raio

Eric Raio is one of the founders of Factory Solutions. When he isn't plotting new ways to create awesome software. He likes to geek out about flying drones and technology.

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