5S is a workplace organizational method that was developed in Japan to promote efficiencies in manufacturing. It is a visual based system of organizing, layout and cleanliness, which results in greater productivity and quality.
Traditional lead manufacturing embraces 5S standards, but Vulcan GMS has added on a key element that had not been included in 5S up until this point. Vulcan has been on the course of lean manufacturing through 6S for the last several years. The key element that Vulcan has added into its lean manufacturing to create 6S as a standard is safety.
Defining 6S by starting with safety
The 6S standard that Vulcan has embraced makes safety a key point of the program. Since safety is so important to our organization, it is the first on our list of standards.
- Safety is a key element of any workplace; but too many organizations say safety is important but don’t make it part of their philosophy or daily behavior. At Vulcan GMS, we include it because we have two daily safety meetings, near miss reviews, open mic reviews and monthly reporting. Making safety an integral part of the program makes it a key focus and part of the entrenched behavior of following the rest of the 6S program.
- Sort (from the Japanese word Seiri): It’s important to separate the needed from the unneeded. Sorting is aimed to eliminate the unneeded from the work area and perform the initial cleaning.
- Straightening (from the Japanese word Seiton): This quite simply means that there is a place for everything and everything should be in its place; clean and ready for use. By straightening, we are simplifying which arranges the workplace to ensure safety and efficiency.
- Systematic Cleaning (from the Japanese word Seiso): Systematic daily cleaning means inspection of work areas and equipment to understand conditions and determine if corrective action is needed.
- Standardize (from the Japanese word Seiketso) is developing common methods for consistency. Standardizing aims to make abnormal conditions noticeable and to document agreements to ensure consistency and sustainability.
- Sustain (from the Japanese word Shitsuke) is holding the gains and improving. Sustaining is aimed at maintaining the improvements from the other 5S activities and improving further. This is frequently the hardest of the five items because it requires discipline and the most long term effort.
Once you have implemented the 6S method, you will find cleaner and safer work areas, less wasted time through workplace organization and less space problems due to greater organization. You will know you have changed your organization for the better when your employees have fully embraced the process and work to present and implement their own ideas for 6S improvements.
At Vulcan GMS, it has taken years of effort; but all that hard work is paying off. Good luck on your own 6S journey. Your efforts will be worth it!