What is The 6S Method?

Companies frequently seek methods to enhance their workplace environment, employee satisfaction, and customer experience. The 6S method provides companies with a framework to implement new protocols aimed at boosting workplace productivity and safety. If you oversee a team or organization, gaining insights into the 6S method and its practical value could be advantageous.

This article outlines the 6S method, elucidates its fundamental principles, highlights the advantages of this methodology, and provides guidance on implementing it within an organization.

What is The 6S Method

What is The 6S Method?

The 6S method is designed to foster and maintain elevated levels of productivity and safety across an organization. Expanding upon the foundational 5S method, which is commonly employed in manufacturing for continuous enhancement, the 6S method integrates the five principles of sort, set, shine, standardize, and sustain, with an added focus on safety. Beyond manufacturing, the 6S approach finds application in diverse industries like mining, construction, transportation, finance, and maintenance.

Principles of the 6S method

Below are the six principles constituting the 6S method:


The initial principle of the 6S method is sorting. During this phase, essential items are distinguished from those not regularly utilized or properly stored. This organization simplifies navigation within the workspace, fostering safety and efficiency. Employing a system of red, yellow, and green tags aids in this process, with red indicating items for immediate disposal, yellow for occasional use and off-site storage, and green for everyday accessibility. Additionally, digital decluttering and the development of an intuitive directory are recommended.


in Order The second principle, setting in order, aims to optimize the functionality of the workplace by arranging tagged items, equipment, and materials logically. This may involve creating boundaries with tape or painted lines, employing labeling, color coding, or utilizing motion mapping to minimize unnecessary movements and enhance efficiency.


Shining, the third principle, emphasizes thorough cleaning of the workspace, machinery, and resources post-sorting. Regular deep cleaning and maintenance routines enhance morale, productivity, and product quality. Implementing a standardized cleaning schedule ensures a consistently tidy and safe work environment.


Standardization, the fourth principle, involves establishing and implementing standardized procedures within the workplace. Leadership creates rules and instructions to ensure the ongoing adherence to the 6S program, often supplemented by follow-up inspections to reinforce these standards.


Sustaining, the fifth principle, focuses on ingraining the new practices and procedures into the organization’s culture. Emphasizing efficiency and organization through the provision of necessary supplies and the establishment of key performance metrics fosters habitual adherence to standardized procedures.


The final principle, safety, concentrates on identifying and mitigating hazards to ensure the well-being of the team. Conducting regular audits and assessments, adhering to safety protocols, and implementing industry standards are essential components of this phase.

Benefits of the 6S method

Many organizations adopt the 6S method to enhance their workplace environment for employees. Below are some common benefits associated with implementing the 6S method:

Cost Reduction

Utilizing the 6S method often leads to reduced costs by improving waste management through the elimination of unused items. Additionally, organizations can implement routine maintenance schedules for tools, extending their lifespan and reducing downtime. Teams can leverage the 6S method to predict the shelf life of goods and materials, optimizing investments and cost management practices.

Increased Efficiency

The 6S method enhances efficiency by minimizing distractions and promoting focus through workspace organization. Team members can locate equipment and materials more efficiently, and proper maintenance practices reduce downtime.

Improved Production

Quality A safe and organized workspace created by the 6S method fosters focus on product quality by minimizing distractions. Many manufacturers using the 6S method integrate inspection software to conduct quality audits, measure progress, set benchmarks, and enhance customer satisfaction.

Stress Reduction

Implementing the 6S method involves developing guides, manuals, and instructions for employees, which simplifies tasks and enhances efficiency. Standardized best practices reduce stress levels and improve the onboarding experience for employees.

Enhanced Teamwork

Standardized procedures and workflows facilitated by the 6S method improve teamwork by clarifying processes and identifying areas where team members can support each other. Effective training on various tasks becomes easier, ensuring alignment towards common goals with consistent metrics for progress measurement.

Improved Safety

The 6S method prioritizes safety through the establishment of protocols and preventative measures to reduce risks. This emphasis on safety not only minimizes accidents but also contributes to a safer work environment, potentially improving mental health and overall work experience for team members.

Tips For Implementing The 6S Method

Below are some tips to assist in implementing the 6S method within an organization:

  • Document Each Phase: Record observations and changes made during each of the six principal phases for future reference.
  • Develop Clear Instructions: Use straightforward language to communicate new procedures, workflows, and practices to the organization.
  • Measure Progress: Define key performance metrics for tracking progress and share them with the team.
  • Implement Regular Check-Ins: Conduct periodic reviews to assess performance and schedule equipment maintenance to minimize downtime.
  • Invest in Software: Utilize software tools for proper documentation, organization, scheduling routine maintenance, measuring KPIs, and tracking inventory.
  • Install Visual Cues: Reinforce new procedures by incorporating visual cues such as signs, safety lights, and labels.
  • Provide Leadership Support: Encourage active leadership involvement to facilitate employee adoption of new procedures.
  • Be Repetitious: Host recurring events throughout the year to maintain momentum, eliminate waste, and reinforce 6S principles.


What is the 6S method?

The 6S method is a systematic approach aimed at enhancing workplace productivity and safety within organizations. It builds upon the foundational 5S method, integrating principles of sorting, setting in order, shining, standardization, sustaining, and safety.

How does the 6S method differ from the 5S method?

While the 5S method focuses on continuous improvement in manufacturing, the 6S method extends its application to various industries beyond manufacturing, incorporating an additional emphasis on safety.

What are the benefits of implementing the 6S method?

Implementing the 6S method can result in reduced costs, increased efficiency, improved production quality, stress reduction, enhanced teamwork, and better safety measures within the workplace.

How can organizations effectively implement the 6S method?

Organizations can implement the 6S method effectively by documenting each phase, providing clear instructions, measuring progress, conducting regular check-ins, investing in software tools, installing visual cues, providing leadership support, and fostering repetition through recurring events.

In what industries can the 6S method be applied?

The 6S method can be applied across various industries such as manufacturing, mining, construction, transportation, finance, and maintenance, among others, to promote productivity and safety.


The 6S method offers organizations a robust approach to boost productivity and safety. By incorporating principles like sorting, setting in order, and safety, it streamlines operations while fostering efficiency and collaboration. The method’s benefits include cost reduction, increased efficiency, improved quality, stress reduction, enhanced teamwork, and better safety measures. Through diligent implementation, organizations can create environments that prioritize employee well-being and organizational success across industries.