6S

Before & After

Before
Before

After
After

6S is NOT

  • An isolated spring cleaning event
  • Removing only the things that are no longer used
  • Rearranging the same items in a neater way
  • Taking items from one location to another
  • A memo or e-mail stating that a 6S audit will be executed shortly
  • A big, one-time event due to the visit of an important client
  • A methodology, in itself, leading to world class performance

"Most people would rather live with a problem they can't solve, than accept a solution they can't understand."
-R.E.D. Woolsey and H.S. Swanson

Six Sigma (6S) is a method used to create and maintain a clean, orderly, and safe work environment. 6S is often the first method companies implement in the Lean journey, since it serves as the foundation of future continuous improvement efforts.

Need help with your Lean Processes? Contact the Lean Team

The 6S Principles

Trash Cans
Trash Cans

Step 1: Sort

Focuses on eliminating unnecessary items from the workplace. Sorting is an excellent way to free up valuable floor space and eliminate such things as broken tools, obsolete fixtures, scrap, and excess raw material. The sort process also helps prevent the JIC (just-in-case) job mentality.

Cabinets
Cabinets

Step 2: Straighten

Focuses on efficient and effective storage methods. Once sorted, items are arranged systematically to ensure their traceability. Effective activities include:

  • Painting floors
  • Outlining work areas and locations
  • Shadow boards
  • Modular shelving and cabinets for needed items (such as trash cans, brooms, mop and bucket)

"A place for everything and everything in its place."

Floor Cleaners
Floor Cleaners

Step 3: Shine

Once the work area clutter has been eliminated and necessary items identified, the next step is thoroughly clean the area. Daily follow-up is necessary to sustain this improvement. Always keep items ready to use and in a tidy status.

Label Makers & Accessories
Label Makers & Accessories

Step 4: Standardize

Once the first three steps are completed, efforts should be made to standardize the process. All employees involved with the process should participate in the development of a standard method to maintain and monitor the first three 6S steps.

Training Posters
Training Posters

Step 5: Sustain

Sustain the previous four steps and continually improve on them. This is by far the most difficult to implement and achieve. Using self-discipline, each individual has to commit to the process.

  • Sustain the 4 previous steps and continually improve on them
  • Acquire self-discipline through the habit of repeating the 4 previous steps
  • Establish standards for each of the 6S standards
  • Establish and perform evaluations of each step

Fall Protection
Fall Protection

Step 6: Safety

This step is simple, but important: remove hazards and dangers.