Step-by-step instructions on how to implement 6S

What is the 6S, and why do we care? An Introduction and Benefits

The 6S method originated in Japan as part of the Toyota Production System and was later adopted in various industries worldwide.

What is 6S? At its core 6S is a method of housekeeping

It is a systematic approach to organizing and maintaining a clean, efficient, and safe environment.

Sounds like a lot of work? Why would you want to do it on top of your regular job?

No one wants to work in a dirty, unorganized workplace. It gets extremely frustrating to find a tool if your workbench is a mess

6S (formerly known as 5S) is a proven way to organize your workplace to improve efficiency, enhance safety and overall well-being in your workplace.

The following steps will outline steps to implement 6S and help you on your journey


Step 1/6: Sort (Seiri) - How can sorting benefit your space?

Picture this, you are trying to find your favorite t-shirt in a messy closet through a bunch of clothes you never wear. Wouldn’t it be better to get if you could get rid of those not often worn clothes?

The first step of the 6S method is to sort through your belongings and remove any unnecessary items. Evaluate each item and decide whether it is essential to your work or personal life. Keep only what is necessary and discard or relocate the rest. This process helps eliminate clutter and creates a more focused and efficient space.

That’s exactly the idea here, you first select only those items necessary to perform your tasks and eliminate everything else.

Any visual distractions, any items that can increase your movement, and anything that would reduce focus.


Step 2/6: Set in Order (Seiton) - How does setting things in order improve efficiency?

In the example of finding your favorite t-shirt, if you could store them in the closet to wear you can get them easily wouldn’t that save you time and so much headache?

This is the basis of Sieton or Set In Order, to store those essential items in a place based on the frequency of their use.

The objectives are to spend as little time as possible and reduce frustration.


Step 3/6: Shine (Seiso)- What are the benefits of maintaining cleanliness?

In the example of finding our favorite t-shirt, how many times have we encountered a messy closet and just abandoned the search to find something that is closest to us?

In the same vein, we would want to clean and maintain a clean workspace

A clean environment provides improved aesthetics, reduced allergens, and a positive work environment for our employees


Step 4/6: Standardize (Seiketsu) - How can standardization improve your space?

Congrats! You have sorted your closet out and now can get your favorite t-shirt.

Would you like to do the same for the sock drawer? You would need to get a system down for that, correct?

Standardization is developing guidelines and protocols for maintaining the organization, safety, and cleanliness of our workplaces and replicating them across multiple work areas of the business.

Standardization sets consistent practices, streamlines processes, and increases efficiency.


Step 5/6: Sustain (Shitsuke) - How can you ensure long-term success?

Great! You’ve now set up your closet to find your favorite T-Shirt, will it still be in the same place if you go back next week? Will the closet still be tidy?

As the word suggests, this step is ensuring the 6S system is in place.

This is probably the most significant step and one in which most organizations fail.

The reason is not through lack of trying and interest, it is primarily due to a lack of employee engagement.

When you get inputs from your employees on the production floor to sort, standardize & shine, make them decision-makers, and hold them more accountable this is guaranteed to yield results versus having a top-down approach.


Step 6/6: Safety (Anzen) - How does safety integration enhance your space?

Although a later addition to the 5 S’es, Safety is an important factor to consider when organizing the workplace.

Organizing a workplace with safety in mind will not organize the workplace but also reduce the risk of injuries.

While setting up and organizing a workplace you can set up Poka-Yokes to ensure employee safety.



Conclusion: A Paradigm shift in thinking

Setting up a successful 65 housekeeping philosophy can have a transformative change in your organization by reducing time wasted searching for items, minimizing the risk of injuries, and easy retrieval of items leading to smoother operations.

6S is always a first step in an organization's Lean journey of Continuous Improvement.

Remember- For a successful implementation of 6S, it is important not only for top-down commitment but bottom-up involvement and buy-in for employee empowerment.


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