In lean manufacturing 6S is an extension of the 5S system that reduces waste and optimizes productivity. The fundamentals of 5S are:
6S uses the five pillars of 5S and adds a sixth pillar, in most cases "safety." Here are the most common six pillars of 6S:
There are a number of options for the sixth pillar, such as security and satisfaction, but safety is most commonly the 6th S.
6S ensures that safety is not minimized and relegated to a back seat in favor of eliminating waste and improving productivity. While each of the first 5 pillars can be approached in a step-by-step fashion, in 6S the sixth pillar should be a part of every step. Sorting, setting in order and shining are all important to improving safety. Standardizing establishes safe work practices in a formal manner that ensures safety is a continually a part of the all aspects of the workplace. And "Sustain" ensures that there is no backsliding.
But there is more to 6S. For example, in the sixth step of 6S a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) should be conducted for every job in your workplace. Use this to identify potential hazards that have not been addressed. 6S says that we don't rely on the first five pillars alone to ensure a safe workplace, but are proactive in identifying potential safety hazards and eliminating them, controlling them, or protecting against them.
6S also takes a larger view of safety. In addition to the JHA, which focuses on individual jobs and tasks, also look at the facility and company as a whole. Is your Hazard Communication Plan up-to-date? Do you have a current safety manual and safety plan? Is your safety training complete and in compliance with OSHA? 6S ensures that the important details of safety are not missed while the focus is on cleaning up, sorting and organizing the workplace.
Other options for a sixth S, or sometimes a seventh and eighth S, are:
In some types businesses 6S includes security instead of safety. Where the protection of intellectual property, fixed assets, materials, human capital, brand image, information technology and products-in-transit is important, security becomes a major concern. When included as a part of 6S, security becomes a part of the complete 6S process. What is done in the first five steps is evaluated in light of whether it enhances or detracts from security.
Another possibility for 6S is "Satisfaction." This refers to employee satisfaction. Your human capital is your most important asset. Employee satisfaction helps ensure other lean techniques such as kaizen - continuous improvement based on employee suggestions - are sustained and effective. Unused talent or underutilized talent is damaging waste which should be eliminated by applying the sixth S, satisfaction.
Some add all three, safety, security and satisfaction to the five pillars of 5S, thinking that more is better. However, with each "S" that is added, the more complicated and diluted your "S" program becomes. Pick one of the three potential additional "S" objectives and stick with 6S. You'll have a more effective, focused system that is better able to deliver the results you want.
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