What is 5S/6S? A Simple List to Help Increase Efficiency

What is 5S/6s?

5S/6S is a methodology that can help anyone maximize efficiency, although it’s most closely related to lean manufacturing (or lean production). At first, this methodology only included five basic principles (or practices) that one could use to encourage continual improvement and apply to organizing in the workplace. However, in recent years, “5s” methodology has expanded to include a sixth principle. It is called 5S (or 6S) because each of the practices within the system begins with the letter S:

  1. Sort,
  2. Set in Order
  3. Shine
  4. Standardize
  5. Sustain
  6. Safety

Straightaway, you can start implementing 5S/6S in your workplace at any time with very little preparation. However, labels and tags for sorting and setting things in order make it a lot easier. Moreover, you can customize printable labels and tags online for free and print them using standard printers. For example, you can customize Avery labels and tags in just minutes using Avery Design and Print Online and predesigned templates, which are both free.

Quickly learn how to customize Avery labels and tags for any purpose.

The 5 (or 6) principles of lean manufacturing

Because lean manufacturing focuses on eliminating waste while maximizing productivity, it commonly includes the 5S/6S principles. Consequently, here are the basic definitions and benefits of each principle in the 5S/6S methodology:

Sort (5S principle #1)

To begin with, sort through all items in an area. Then, tag damaged tools or equipment for repair and remove them from the area. After that, remove or dispose of unused or broken tools, equipment, and supplies.

  • Reduce time spent looking for items
  • Makes visual inspection easier
  • Increases working space

Set in Order (5S principle #2)

Once you have sorted all items, put ones that are necessary to operations in the best place for their function and use. Assign clearly labeled fixed locations so items are easy to return and note when missing.

  • Reduces unnecessary time and energy spent on workflow
  • Reduces time and money spent replacing misplaced items

Shine (5S principle #3)

Once you get everything in order, then you can clean and inspect workstations, tools, and equipment on a regular basis.

  • Encourages better equipment maintenance
  • Easier to detect safety issues earlier

Standardize (5S principle #4)

Next, outline the procedures and schedules to accomplish the first three practices (Sort, Set in Order, Shine) so that they are easy to repeat as needed.

  • Makes it easy to work into the daily routine
  • Establishes everyone’s roles/duties in the practice

Sustain (5S principle #5)

Subsequently, take steps to keep the process functioning. For example, 5S “Sustain” methods can include training sessions to prepare self-disciplined workers. Or, regular audits to both ensure standards are met and identify areas for improvement.

  • Keeps the process going
  • Encourages continual improvement
  • Increases efficiency over time

Safety (The 6th S)

Above all, insure that safety is never sacrificed for productivity. Setting aside the inherent responsibility employers have to protect workers, accidents and injuries also reduce efficiency. Indeed, time lost, medical costs, and possible legal ramifications are never worth the tradeoff for seemingly “faster” work.

What is 5s/6s: Summary

In conclusion, the 5S/6S methodology is a proven system for maximizing efficiency in the workplace. Originally consisting of five principles, it has now expanded to include a sixth principle, safety, highlighting the paramount importance of maintaining a safe work environment. By implementing the 5S/6S principles, including Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain, and Safety, companies can streamline processes, reduce waste, and continually improve their operations. With easily customizable labels and tags, such as those available from Avery, getting started with 5S/6S has never been easier. Watch the linked video to learn how to customize Avery labels and tags for free and get started on a more efficient workplace today.

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Please note, the contents of this article and related articles on avery.com are for informational purposes only, are general in nature, and are not intended to and should not be relied upon or construed as a legal opinion or legal advice regarding any specific issue or factual circumstance.

Author: JoJo Mrgich

JoAnn (JoJo) Mrgich is a copywriter and SEO content writer who began her copywriting career in 2011. A musical theater major at the time, JoJo began writing blog articles, product descriptions, and other online content for a dancewear brand. Since then, she has gone on to write in a variety of fields, from essential oils and natural beauty to fashion and swimwear, finally landing at Avery, which she affectionately calls her "forever home." At Avery, JoJo writes content for the Avery blog, covering everything from organization to party planning, as well as contributing to other online content for avery.com. She is also a technical and content writer for Avery Industrial, where she writes in-depth articles that span a wide variety of topics, from safety compliance to 5S lean practices. In her personal life, JoJo is a big fan of fantasy and science-fiction works such as Lord of the Rings and Star Trek (especially the original series). She also loves going to Disneyland and runs a non-profit social organization of 600 members that brings fans of "nerd culture" together for meet-ups and events in Southern California.