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From Five to Six… What’s in an S? More Lean, That’s What

By Graphic Products Editorial Staff

Lean in and I’ll tell you of a 6
that when joined with five others
adds safety to your Lean bag of tricks

Five S is often considered the most accessible Lean Manufacturing discipline. Other supply-chain oriented Lean programs like Kanban and Kaizen require significant dedicated resources to successfully implement and maintain. But pretty much anyone can leverage the 5S principles of sorting, setting in order, shining, standardizing, and sustaining to clean up, organize and optimize pretty much any process. Any middle-school kid with a healthy Lego collection is likely using an improvised 5S system to keep the white bricks separate from the grey hinges and red roof pieces.

5S transforms to 6S

Now, in safety-centric workplaces like manufacturing, mining and machine shops, a sixth S has begun to show influence, the Safety S. Before we dive into the value 6S brings, let’s do a quick review of the original 5 S’s. The definition of 5S is most commonly attributed to just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing expert Hiroyuki Hirano who penned “5 Pillars of the Visual Workplace” in 1995. The original 5S’s were Japanese terms which are listed below, along with their westernized equivalents.

#1: SEIRI / SORT The Sort step evaluates all facility inventories and tools so needless items, redundancies and hazards can be sorted or removed from the work area.

#2: SEITON / SET IN ORDER Once Sort is complete, 5S team leaders can begin to move forward on a more comprehensive system of organization.

#3: SEISE / SHINE This step refers to the critical cleaning and basic maintenance duties workers incorporate into their daily routines.

#4: SEIKETSU / STANDARDIZE The backbone of the 5S System is “Standardize.” This step helps facilities turn previous steps into routine tasks.

#5: SHITSUKE / SUSTAIN Previous steps should now be embedded into daily operations. Sustaining them keeps 5S functioning efficiently and providing maximum facility organization and efficiency.

Why Need a Sixth S?

Now, it seems that with successful 5S implementation, safety would be improved anyway. Things are sorted, work areas are spotless, and the whole facility is standardized. So, why need the sixth S?In workplaces where hazards exist, focus on safety can never be over-communicated. 6S borrows a page from the Kaizen discipline of continuous improvement. While the 5S’s solve organizational challenges, the sixth S focuses on workers’ awareness of potential hazards. This team empowerment of identifying and eliminating potential hazards can have a positive impact on pride, team-building and workplace culture.So, if you already have a 5S system in place, 6S provides a value-added option for increased workplace safety. If you are considering 5S implementation, consider #6, because safety is kinda like Legos… you can always use more.DuraLabel has Lean Manufacturing kits available including printers and supplies. To find out which kit is right for your facility click here or call us at 888.637.3893.