5S vs. 6S: The Hot Debate
In the world of Lean, few debates polarise those in the sector than that between 5S vs. 6S. In this latest post, we’re going to talk about 5S vs. 6S and how both are valuable Lean tools for your business.
5S has been a long-standing Lean technique and is well known in Lean organisations. However, the recent introduction of 6S has sparked debate amongst Lean Practitioners far and wide. Dedicated, traditional Lean practitioners are against the inclusion of the extra ‘S’ in 6S, as they feel it confuses matters and is unnecessary because if done correctly, safety should be positioned throughout.
Ron Pereira, the managing partner for online training company Gemba Academy, called the debate a “hot topic” for those in the Lean manufacturing arena claiming supporters on both sides of the argument to have valid points.
“My philosophy is if it gets an organisation thinking about safety and putting more focus on safety that can be nothing but good. But if it’s done as a kind of the ‘flavour of the month,’ then maybe it’s not so good,” Pereira said.
“At its core, if you have done it properly, safety is going to be part of all of the ‘S’’s. If you are truly doing 5S – if you are living and breathing it – then safety, productivity, and all of the benefits that come from it are going to result.”
ClarityVM Consulting has helped launch both 5S and 6S initiatives in many different organisations and remains neutral on the subject, as we feel it largely comes down to client preference. Understandably, 5S vs. 6S is a conversation to have within your business to determine which one is right for you. In order for you to make an informed decision on which is right for your company, let’s take a look in more detail.
Recapping 5S vs. 6S
Most will be familiar with the 5S programme: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardise and Sustain.
After completing these steps you should be left with:
- A better-organised work environment
- No waste (such as time spent looking for something)
- Staff taking ownership and pride in their work environment
- A safer more productive workspace for everyone
- A system that sustains
5S and 6S are predominantly about preventing wastes through Muda. Muda is activities or results, which should be eliminated from the process and is often referred to as ‘The Eight Wastes’. Once you have gone through the 5S or 6S process you should be left with a clean and tidy lean workspace, with no waste. There is, however, an over-arching element of safety across the whole 5S process, which has been clarified into the 6th ‘S’, safety.
The 5S Argument
5S, when done correctly, should include safety throughout. Any part of the workplace that is deemed to be unsafe should have been removed during the sort stage and then ‘set in order’ for a safer working environment. It is incomprehensible to think that anyone would ingrain anything remotely unsafe as an agreed upon standard for success. Adding the safety as a step complicates the matter making it less Lean. It also gives the mentality that safety is simply a step to complete when it should be ingrained into the process.
The 6S Argument
The additional step which focuses on identifying hazards and setting preventive controls to keep workers safe, including during the implementation of 5S itself. With safety of key importance in the workplace, ensuring safety accounted for is a top priority for lots of companies. The addition of the 6S ensures that this has been included in the process, rather than relying on it to be ingrained throughout.
However, unlike the first 5 steps safety is not sequential. It must be taken into account during each step. Adding it into the process keeps it in the forefront of everyone’s mind, which cannot be a bad thing. The 6th ‘S’ can be integrated into the process with checklists, risk assessments and audits ensuring that safety concerns are flagged up and dealt with to ensure that the result is a work environment that has been created with safety in mind.
5S vs. 6S
What is clear from both sides of the 5S vs. 6S argument is that safety without a doubt is a huge part of the process, the debate, however, stems from whether it should be listed as a step.
Whichever method you choose, you should ensure that the result is a safe, clean and Lean working environment for all employees. A safer and Leaner working environment will always impact productivity and quality and therefore save you time and money.
Our principal consultant Matt Thomas Says:
“We all have a primary priority every day to ensure that anyone who steps foot into our organisation will go home safe to their family. Whether you choose to adopt 5S or 6S, an organised workplace is always a safer workplace, so by beginning on your journey to creating a sustained culture of workplace organisation you are going to ensure a safer work environment for all!”
ClarityVM Consulting believes that the choice very much lies with the company. If your organisation is very safety conscious as a whole then 5S is perhaps the right methodology for you.
ClarityVM Consulting, making Lean work…
Here at ClarityVM Consulting, we coach clients both far and wide about how they can use Lean and visual management to achieve their goals, exceed their targets and make financial savings which would otherwise be lost to waste. We work with our clients to create a bespoke strategy that ensures Lean is set up for success before providing specific, high-quality visual management products to sustain the initiative and make Lean work in the organisation long-term.
You can read more about the work we’ve undertaken with our clients by browsing through our Visual Management Case Studies
Further reading on the Clarity Blog:
- Developing an Effective Standard Operating Procedure
- Assessing Goals and Auditing Strategies
- Aldeburgh Lifeboat Station – Saving Lives With Lean Thinking
- A Visual Management Definition You Can Rely On
- Kaizen Events: Clarity Consulting’s Secret Weapon
- Why Your Workplace Communication Fails (…and How To Improve It)
- Why Lean Programmes Fail
- 6 Simple Solutions to Battle Workplace Stress
- How To Make Your Process Improvements Stick Around
- How To Create A Culture Of Improvement In Your Workplace
- 6 Challenges For Effective Business Leadership
- Our Favourite Lean Quotes…
- Beat Procrastination and get Motivated
- How to improve the morale in your workplace