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Monday Morning Message on Lean – Why Are 5S Red Tags Red? – August 23, 2010

August 23, 2010


When we do a 5S event, it is usually pretty easy to get the team to perform the first “S” Sort by performing the 5S Red Tag technique; you know “When in doubt, move it out!” This is accomplished by attaching red tags to items that are not needed in the area and then moving them to the 5S Red Tag Holding Area. I want to talk about a very specific aspect when it comes to 5S Red Tagging: Why are 5S Red Tags Red?

First of all, I want to mention why they are typically called 5S Red Tags. It’s because the tag color was originally red. The color catches your eye and gets your attention as in “something is wrong”. I’ve been at companies where they tell me that they do not want to use red tags because people might get these confused with their QC Hold Tags or Reject Tags. So they try to pick another color like pink or purple. I say you don’t have to waste your time doing this. The first thing I would recommend is to work on your quality if you want to be a good Lean company. Slapping red tags on bad parts will not solve your problem. Secondly, train your employees to be able to tell the difference between a QC Hold Tag and a 5S Red Tag. At a minimum, since it is red that should clue them in that something is wrong. Now I do like using other colors for other meanings like using yellow tags for maintenance issues or white tags for safety issues. WARNING! Do not use yellow tags as a “maybe” tag as part of your 5S Red Tagging program. Some people want to put red tags on items that they know do not belong in the area and need to be moved to the Red Tag Holding Area and put yellow tags on items that they are not sure of. If you do it by this method you will find that you will get a lot of yellow tags because people won’t want to have to make up their minds or commit. Besides you will still have to disposition the items with yellow tags and then probably return the item to its home or have to place a red tag on it anyway. Save yourself the headache of having to go through this.

Here’s a link to watch a video that describes our different tags >>5S Red Tags and more

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