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5S Floor Marking

03 February, 2023


At its most fundamental level, 5S is about eliminating waste and getting a facility cleaned up and organized. This includes establishing a storage location for everything, and identifying those locations in a simple way. Knowing what goes where should be simple and easy.

Establishing a standard for floor marking is the foundation of your 5S system. Your 5S floor marking standard establishes the means by which most location and storage information will be communicated.

There is a four-level hierarchy of methods for communication. The fastest, easiest to understand is color, but using color communicates a limited amount of information. Text communicates the most information, but communicates that information slower and with less reliability. The use of shapes and symbols are two other methods of communication that fall between color and text.

Communicating With Color

Color is the most effective means of communication, and it provides the starting point for your 5S floor marking system. Use color to designate pathways and storage locations. However, keep in mind that the colors used should not conflict with those used for compliance in OSHA floor marking requirements. For example, red floor marking may be used to identify red tag areas. However, if red is already being used to identify fire safety equipment, then it should not be used for red tag areas.

Using Shapes Makes the Message Clear

It is a common 5S practice to create shadow boards for storing tools. The shadow board uses vinyl "cutouts" that have the shape of each tool. Tools are placed in the locations that have shapes that exactly match the shape of the tool. Color vinyl can be used to make the color of the "shadows" match the color coding on the tool. This ensures that each tool is returned to its proper location.

People quickly recognize shapes, thus shapes communicate information quickly and reliably.

The same principle can be applied to 5S floor marking, using floor marking tape to mark off the locations of equipment. Unlike shadow boards, the exact shape may not be necessary when using 5S floor marking. For example, if a warehouse uses three sizes of forklift trucks, the parking locations can be designated using three different sizes of rectangular boxes.

Using 5S floor marking tape can help to efficiently and safely guide people to their destinations. Printable floor marking tape can achieve this with directional arrows, or you can cordon off an area with preprinted tape, cautioning against a specific hazard. Wayfinding tapes such as PathFinder Reflect reflective tape or PathFinder Glow in the dark tape will help guide people in low-light conditions or emergency "lights out" scenarios. PathFinder Rigid is heavy duty aisle marking tape designed to withstand the abuse or forklifts and pallets.

Symbols and Pictograms

The next level in communication is to use symbols and pictograms. More information can be communicated using a simple picture than using just color and shapes, and the speed of communication remains relatively high.

One of the most common uses of symbols is to communicate warnings and safety information. So be sure that any 5S floor marking symbols cannot be confused with warning and safety symbols.

For 5S floor marking, symbols may be printed on the floor marking tape to identify the type of equipment or materials to be stored. They may also be used to communicate information about positioning and storing items within an area. For example, a pictogram of a drum with a line through it would indicate that drums are not to be stored within the designated area.

Text and Numbers

Text communicates the most information, but takes the longest to understand. Text also requires the ability to read the language used for the text. This can be critically important when workers speak different languages. Sometimes a combination of text and a symbol is the best way to communicate a message. For example, a red line across a forklift lane may be used to indicate a full stop is required before proceeding. Including the word "STOP," and a symbol in the shape of a stop sign, more clearly communicates the need to stop.

The advantage of text is that it communicates very detailed information. For example, 5S floor marking can be used to designate product storage areas. SKUs printed on the floor marking tape identify which product goes within each area. Text and numbers can be used to identify work areas, machines, workstations, entire production areas, and temporary work areas.

Quality Counts

5S floor marking may seem like a mundane product. After all, once installed we don't think about it much. It's just there, under our feet, doing its job 24/7. And that's the way it should be.

Duralabel offers PathFinder floor marking and safety tape for any industrial environment. PathFinder includes tapes for challenging floors such as irregular surfaces, concrete, extreme temperatures, or floors subjected to frequent washdowns or forklift traffic. Call us at 888.637.3893 if you have any questions about which tape is right for your environment. Master 5S floor marking with our free Floor Marking guide below.