Metalshop 5S Implementation

To improve the usability of the metalshop, I think it would be good to implement the 5S framework as a method of how tools, consumables and other items are stored. I’d like to use this thread to document the process as I go along. If anyone would like to assist in this process let me know and we can collaborate on it.

I plan on starting with the easy and obvious things that will make a big difference in usability and maximize the efficiency in which we use the space. The process will be followed in mostly a linear order for each area, although the order areas are targeted will be mixed. I will follow up shortly with a post about my initial plan.

For those unfamiliar, the 5S process (copied from wikipedia) is:

1. Sort

  • Check all items in a location and evaluate whether or not their presence at the location is useful or necessary.
  • Remove unnecessary items as soon as possible. Place those that cannot be removed immediately in a ‘red tag area’ so that they are easy to remove later on.

2. Set in Order

  • Arrange work stations in such a way that all tooling / equipment is in close proximity, in an easy to reach spot and in a logical order adapted to the work performed. Place components according to their uses, with the frequently used components being nearest to the workplace.
  • Arrange all necessary items so that they can be easily selected for use. Make it easy to find and pick up necessary items.
  • Assign fixed locations for items. Use clear labels, marks or hints so that items are easy to return to the correct location and so that it is easy to spot missing items.

3. Shine

  • Clean the workplace and equipment on a daily basis, or at another appropriate (high frequency) cleaning interval.
  • Inspect the workplace and equipment while cleaning.

4. Standardize

  • Develop a work structure that will support the new practices and make it part of the daily routine.
  • Ensure everyone knows their responsibilities of performing the sorting, organizing and cleaning.
  • Use photos and visual controls to help keep everything as it should be.
  • Review the status of 5S implementation regularly using audit checklists.

5. Sustain

  • Organize training sessions.
  • Perform regular audits to ensure that all defined standards are being implemented and followed.
  • Implement improvements whenever possible. Worker inputs can be very valuable for identifying improvements.
  • When issues arise, identify their cause and implement the changes necessary to avoid recurrence.

Excellent idea!

love it, this is pure WAD energy :slight_smile:

These are the tasks I’m looking at doing specific to the 5S implementation. I’ll try to complete at least 1 per week. Some are pretty big so I’ll break them up as necessary to make them more manageable goals. Let me know if there’s anything that I can add.


  • Collect all items that are damaged or don’t provide adequate value to the area. Vote through the metalshop team to remove the items.
    • Red and black tool chests
    • Black cabinet
    • Mill/lathe bench
    • Mill bench
    • Grinding/welding cabinet
  • Downsize white table

Set in order

  • Clear all bench tops, put up signage about keeping benchtops clear.
  • Install hooks for 3-phase cables
  • Finish mill cabinet shelf. Ensure all tooling slots are labelled.
  • Create comprehensive list of consumables we will stock. Buy initial stock and adjust metalshop budget to suit replenishment.
  • Determine what hand-tools to purchase to complete toolboxes.
  • Cut out foam inserts for tool boxes.
  • Cut out inserts for mill cabinet.
  • Organise lathe cabinet drawers
  • Install cleaning stations next to each machine to make cleaning more accessible.


  • Create cleaning schedule for metalshop team members.
  • Clearly convey expectations on workspace cleanliness to members


  • Create posters for each area/machine containing info on how the machine should be left on packup.
  • Document full list of consumables and create stocktaking procedures for team members to execute.
  • Finish wiki pages for all machinery
  • Document metalshop tool usage, cleanliness, etc on wiki
  • Create general metalshop induction on canvas outlining expectations of using the area. This must be completed before using the area or being inducted on machinery.
  • Put up noticeboard in metalshop outlining policies and update monthly with ongoing changes happening in metalshop.


  • Create and implement an audit checklist to ensure this process is still being performed.
  • Regularly ask for feedback on how the accessibility of the metalshop could be improved,
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Welding Cabinet Cleanup
The welding cabinet should contain only welding and grinding equipment. I cleaned out most items unrelated to welding and grinding and labelled some of the shelf areas with what equipment it should contain. There were lots of damaged welding gloves so I’ve removed these from the cabinet and placed them under the white table for disposal at a later date. There is still soluble oil and another drum at the bottom of the cabinet which I wish to move at some point, but have left them for now as there’s no other place to put them that makes sense.

Before and after pictures of cabinet

TIG Kit Sorting
While cleaning up the welding cabinet, I went through the TIG torch parts and removed all items that do not fit the torch we have. I now have an accurate stock level of the equipment we do have and have updated the consumables sheet accordingly. We had lots of parts in good condition that are for a different size torch. I’ve moved under the white table for now. We currently stock thoriated electrodes for the TIG. I’d like to get rid of the rest of our stock (perhaps sell them) and replace all electrodes with Lanthanted 2% as these can be used for AC and DC without being switched around.

Cleaned TIG Accessories