Using the 5S Methodology in Warehouse and Storage

narrow aisle racking

Thistle Systems’ Max the Cube approach has been recognised as the perfect vehicle for companies looking to implement the 5S methodology within their warehouse storage and production facilities.

Check out our ultra high density storage solutions – ideal for small components

The Max the Cube approach draws upon the key philosophies promoted by the 5S methodology which has become particularly popular with companies looking to gain a competitive advantage, particularly in industries such as oil & gas, engineering and manufacturing.

The 5S system promotes the never stop improving cycle of ‘sort’, ‘set in order’, ‘straighten’, ‘shine’ and ‘sustain’ to create clean, efficient and effective workspaces which are designed to maximise performance.

However whilst many companies have been able to deliver the 5S Methodology in their production areas, the storage of materials can often prove to be more of a challenge.

With a substantial inventory and limited floor space, organisation and discipline are often compromised, affecting production and leading to bad practice. The acquisition of more space does not necessarily guarantee elimination of these problems.

Thistle uses the same 5 steps to develop its market leading warehouse racking solutions using its Max the Cube approach.


The ‘sorting’ aspect is applied to identify the products being stored, analysing the size, weight and frequency of use to develop a stock profile as well as the area within the products need to be stored.


It then uses the ‘set in order’ stage to design the optimum solution to maximise capacity and performance, using a combination of industrial racking solutions, shelving, drawer systems and work benches.

Thistle then uses key tools such as dividers, small parts containers, bespoke drawer inlays, pull out drawers and mesh to ensure every product has a clear and concise location to maximise capacity and accessibility. Where appropriate, product locations should be clearly displayed with tags and rack labels.


This ‘straightening’ stage is designed to minimise wastage within the storage system through issues such as product spread or the creation of dead spaces in shelving depths and heights.  This requires careful consideration and analysis of the products being stored and for example, in one project, we designed the depth and height of the shelf to suit the depth and height of the subsea diving helmets which were being stored.

In doing so it ensures the shine element is delivered by ensuring the products are stored in pristine condition and are safely accessed.


One of the key principles within the Max the Cube approach is to dramatically reduce the ongoing costs of the system which follows the ‘sustain’ principle of 5S.

This not only requires a high quality system which is ‘Built to Last’ but also features sufficient protection dependent on the solution and the products being stored. This could feature items such as barriers, upright protectors, guide rails and security.

However the Sustain principle also applies to the continued safe use of the racking or shelving system and to ensure this is delivered Thistle has developed its own signage to ensure safe loading capacities are ruthlessly adhered to.

Thistle Systems has built a vast portfolio of case studies in which clients were able to reclaim their space, achieving lean production and optimisation. The team has worked closely with major clients who praise the project management, expertise and after-care service available at Thistle.