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and its implementation at UCB

September 2020


Quality Assistant in charge of Research and Development

In order to achieve high levels of quality, safety and productivity, workers in any given enterprise must have a perfect working environment. 5S is a tool or philosophy of organizing and managing the workspace and work flow with the intent to improve efficiency by eliminating waste, enhancing flow and reducing time, with a consequence of yielding expected results.


It is a workplace organizational method and a foundation for continual improvement which uses a list of five Japanese words: Seiri, Seiton, Seisō, Seiketsu and Shitsuke, translated as “Sort”, “Set in order”, “Shine”, “Standardize” and “Sustain”. These were generalized as “5S” in 1980’s in the manufacturing sector in Japan as Toyota Production System (Just-In-Time manufacturing) and has since become a worldwide phenomenon. 5S is all about discipline; doing the right thing at the right time and at the right place.

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Kaizen (the Japanese word for “change for better”) is a concept referring to business activities that continuously improve all functions and involves all employees from senior management to the assembly line workers. In this regard, everyone is encouraged to come up with small improvement ideas and recommendations on a regular and continuing basis.


For the majority of businesses ready to move onto the next level, the number 1 starting point on the performance improvement hierarchy is to standardize and stabilize the way of doing things (standard operating model – SOM). By improving standardized programs and processes, Kaizen aims to eliminate waste (lean manufacturing), always improving productivity, safety and effectiveness in task execution and making changes anywhere improvements can be made. The cycle of Kaizen activity can be defined as “Plan → Do → Check → Act”. This is also known as the Deming cycle or PDCA (which is just one of its numerous tools for continuous improvement).

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5S trainees during the very first training session of 26th – 29th August 2019

 A cross-section of participants during the February 2020 review session

A UCB lab technician implementing 

5S in the lab (27/08/2019)



As part of its continuous improvement activities, The Union Camerounaise de Brasseries (UCB)-ISO 9001:2015 Certified - also engages in the practice of Kaizen concept and the 5S methodology which are employed in all sectors or units of the enterprise to make sure all objectives set by the enterprise are realized within specified timelines. In fact, the 5S methodology was one of the major arms used to facilitate the preparation phases which led to obtaining the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System certificate in December 2019, a system which was launched in June 2018. UCB, being one major food industry in Cameroon, is determined to continue with the daily practice of 5S for the retention of this certificate and also serve as a main arm in preparation for obtaining other standards such as ISO 22000.


To this light, departmental representatives periodically undergo theoretical and practical training sessions on the applications of these tools and in turn transmit these to co-workers, leading to operational excellence which is one of our five pillars being followed up in order to achieve UCB’s operation 2025 vision.


The very first training (in Douala) was carried out from 26th to 29th August 2019 by Project Kaizen Cameroun, using video and PowerPoint projections for better understanding of the subject matter. Some practical areas for improvement included physicochemical and microbiology laboratories, brew house, mechanic and carpentry workshops, IT center, machine hall, general warehouse, finished product warehouse, return product warehouse, beer and gasified soft drinks bottling units and a host of offices. Satisfactory levels were attained as confirmed by “before” and “after” photos of the improvement workplaces.

Sustainability for 5S requires a daily follow-up by each member of UCB platform, without which the aspect of continuous improvement in its activities is far-fetched. In view of sustaining the implemented practice, a first review of Kaizen’s 5S was carried out from 26th to 27th February 2020 by some trained UCB personnel with a total of twenty five participants, who, at the end of the session, were evaluated theoretically before they were sent for various workplace inspections. Routine inspections of workplaces are also done by Kaizen experts.


Main entrance to the old general warehouse (Before)


Implementation of 5S at the newly contructed general warehouse (After)

Since the implementation of 5S tool at UCB, the working environment has become more appealing, attractive and conducive; leading to improved efficiency though more effort is still needed for its perfection. It is our ardent hope that through Projet Kaizen’s quarterly inspections, coupled with regular in-house reviews and follow-ups and individual discipline, this tool has come to stay and helping the realization of the first of our five pillars (to improve on our infrastructures and production environment).


A clean well-organized, visual workplace is fundamental to standardization.

Establishing a normal condition makes the abnormal conspicuous. Standardized work depends upon each tool always being in the same place; a place for everything and everything in its place. When things are orderly and neatly kept in an area, less time is spent in doing work. Time is money; hence, spending less time in doing work will eventually lead to more financially benefits.

As food for thought, the practice of 5S methodology is not limited to enterprises. It actually begins in one’s own first immediate environment (his house/home).

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