5S Resource Center

SET IN ORDER:  Storage Options

Storage Options

Options to consider when selecting or designing storage devices during the Set in Order phase:

The Floor

  • For some large or heavy materials, tools, or equipment, the only logical thing to do is store them on the floor.
  • Designate a dedicated space for the item, mark the space on the floor, and use it only for that item.

Racks and Shelving

  • Racks and shelving allow the effective use of cubic feet rather than just square feet used for storage by making vertical space available.
  • Labeling shelves and first-in, first-out practices are important to ensure that the shelves are effective 5S aids.

Flow Racks

  • Gravity flow racks are excellent to ensure FIFO (first-in, first-out) inventory practices are followed.
  • Flow racks can be designed for either cartons or pallets.


  • Cabinets can be both good and bad for organizing a work area. They are good for storage. They are bad in that they can be used to “hide things.”
  • It takes discipline to ensure a cabinet is a valuable 5S tool and does not detract from the effort.


  • Carts are ideal for moving things into the work areas when needed and then out of the way when not needed.

Storage Bins

  • Storage bins are available in all sizes, from small desktop containers to large, rollable bins.
  • Using different colored bins to designate different tasks or product families provides a visual check to help make sure a bin is not out of place.

Portable Equipment

  • Any equipment that can be made portable should be. This will allow it to be rolled into the work area when it is needed and then rolled back to its home when the job is done.
  • Do not forget to designate the area for storing the portable equipment when it is not in use.

Custom Storage

  • Even unusual shaped and sized items can be organized.
  • After reviewing the item, a maintenance professional can often design and build a custom storage system for those items.

Central Cribs or Storeroom

  • Using a centralized storeroom as the designated storage location is rarely as effective as it may seem at first.
  • Instead of a central crib, why not consider keeping equipment and supplies in satellite storerooms in the area where they are needed?

Shadow Boards

  • Shadow boards provide a visual place to store hand tools and gages. It is easy to see at a glance what is missing from the board as well as what should be placed where on the board.

Hanging Tools

  • One method to organize tools in work areas is to mount them from retractable reels above the work area. This keeps them out of the way when not needed, but keeps them right at hand for when they are needed.