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Industrial label printers are capable of printing an assortment of different sized labels using different colored inks and can print on different types of label supply as well. Some industrial label printers even feature thermal print heads that can create an extremely durable, no-smudge label. These tags are attached to items that no longer add value to the work facility and are not often needed or used. This type of red 5S tag is easy to see and makes the process of sorting through different tools, supplies, and equipment simple and straightforward.

By looking at the tags, employees can easily determine what is going to stay and what is going to go. Most people working for any type of warehouse or manufacturing company will recognize the term 5S and immediately know it is all about reducing waste and improving productivity. However, in addition to 5S, there is also a sixth S known as safety. While the sixth S is not a part of the original Lean concept developed at Toyota, the implementation of it can help improve productivity and eliminate waste in many ways.

Throughout the Lean manufacturing community there is some controversy about whether 6S should be a standard or not. The argument against 6S points out that safety should be a key component of each of the other S's, and therefore having a 6th separate S is actually redundant. Nonetheless, those who like the idea of 6S believe that while safety should be a factor in each of the other S's, it is important enough to warrant its own category as well. There really is no right or wrong answer, but it is difficult to argue that safety is not one of the most important factors in reducing waste and improving productivity.

Here are some of the most obvious ways safety can help eliminate waste and improve productivity within any workplace:. Of course, there are dozens of other ways that safety can help improve the overall efficiency of a facility. Whether it is called 5S or 6S, safety should always be incorporated into every Lean efficiency effort made.

One of the best ways to do this is to take a look at how all efforts with any of the first 5 S's will impact safety. Every facility will have to come up with the specifics for how this is done, but many companies have found that making a simple chart can be helpful. The chart below shows how it works and how the sixth S may be adopted into use in the work facility. The table above is a very simple depiction. However, it should provide an idea of how to take projects that were set for the traditional 5S steps and use them to make safety 6th S improvements as well. Below is an in-depth exploration of each step within the 5S process and how it can be utilized to ensure maximum effectiveness.

Sort is the first step in any 5S process.

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The term sort is originally derived from the Japanese word Seiri. Each step in the 5S process has an associated goal that can be specifically outlined to help guide efforts. For the step of Sort, the goal is to remove unnecessary items from the room, station, or space being organized. Furthermore, the sorting phase also aims to provide a clean slate on which to build and carry out the other four steps.

Beginning the process of Sort starts out simply, as nearly everything should be removed from the target area. Even though taking items from one space and placing them into a big pile in another space seems like it may be making a mess, this is not true. Instead, this is the opportunity to really make decisions about what needs to stay and what needs to go so actions can be immediately taken for items that are no longer used or needed.

Industrial bins are needed for an accurate sort. Based on the standard approach, there are three to four "bins" or sorting categories used when conducting a 5S sort. This phase focuses on placing the items deemed essential in the Sort phase back into the workstation or area in a specific, well-organized manner.

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More importantly, Set in Order is truly about finding the most efficient and sensible homes for the tools and items within that area. Every time employees have to search around for a tool to complete their jobs, time is wasted and by extension, the business loses money.

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Setting items in order in an intentional and planned way is essential to minimizing these types of losses. For example, imagine the importance of well-organized tools for EMTs. They need to have their most frequently needed tools and equipment on hand and easily accessible to help save the lives of their patients.

Logical organization paired with knowledge of where tools and supplies are could literally make the difference between life and death.

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While the stakes may not always be as high in a production facility, every loss of efficiency does bleed a business' profits out little by little. A good way to begin this step is to map out the area where the tools and equipment will be returned to. During this stage, it is critical to really think about the jobs being performed in or around each station. This knowledge should be used to map out the most convenient and comfortable areas for workers to go to or reach towards.

Employees' most frequently used tools should reside in easy-to-access areas with the least restrictions possible. The goal is to minimize the need for employees to repeatedly reach over and between items by placing the most frequently used tools and supplies closest to the station operator, while opting to place less utilized items in other areas. Stemming from the Japanese term Seiso is "Shine," which means to sweep or sanitize. This is the third stage of a 5S project. First and foremost, the Shine phase is basically a complete and unapologetic cleaning of the entire workstation or space.

In this phase, employees should be cleaning, dusting, polishing, sweeping, and vacuuming along with anything else needed to attain perfect order. Seiketsu , Japanese for "Standardize," is the fourth step in the 5S process.

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This stage directly connects with some of the closing tips from the "Shine" section, and that's because it builds on the idea of auditing and checking in on 5S efforts regularly. Standardization is essentially "the bridge" between Shine and the final step of 5S, Sustain. By standardizing the approach to 5S, it can ensure organizational efforts are sustained in the long run. Failing to standardize procedures can lead to work becoming sloppy over time and a loss of efficiency.

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Begin to standardize 5S operations by making the process more than a word-of-mouth agreement. This is the time to implement a clear, universally understood system so that employees are certain about what they are expected to do. One excellent way to do this is to design and print out 5S audit sheets that can be used by whoever is checking an area on a given day.

A checklist that asks specific questions about the work area can help ensure that processes are carried out as intended. One of the biggest concerns with standardization is that sometimes audits may come back consistently lackluster from a 5S'd area.

This is a problem, but a common one that can be addressed with relative ease. In general, many times failure at this stage is due to failing to recognize one or more factors contributing to disorganization. Contributing factors may include:.

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The final step, which is known as Sustain or Shitsuke , focuses on taking all of the previous steps of 5S, including the standardized procedures, and transforming them into ongoing habits to ensure continuous improvement. Just having a basic system in place is not enough, and the existence of the Sustain step is a testament to this. When workers are required to do something new in the workspace, it will not become an automatic habit right away; it takes people time to actually form longstanding habits.

When existing employees help train new employees, it helps refresh the tactics and practices of 5S. Thank you Marine Engineering Training for this photo. While this visual organization system has been adapted for use in many workplaces including warehouses, offices, and healthcare facilities, many manufacturing facilities continue to benefit from 5S. When combined with other Lean practices, 5S often proves especially useful. In a manufacturing facility where employees routinely need to use tools and obtain materials, 5S plays a significant role.

Visual cues such as floor markings floor tape, floor shapes, signs, etc. In a fast-paced work environment, these markings can mean the difference between a messy workplace and an efficient one. Each employee in the manufacturing facility is taught which 5S tasks to perform as part of his or her daily work, and this makes the system sustainable over the long term. As with many other Lean strategies, the practice and implementation of 5S also features some common misconceptions. In other words, employees and staff often confuse or misconstrue certain information and tactics related to 5S.

This is very common, but can have a direct negative impact on 5S efforts and results. The below statements are some common misconceptions associated with 5S.

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Because there are many misconceptions out there about the processes and tasks involved in 5S, it is important to not lose track of the basics. Truth: When it comes to 5S, there is often a big understanding gap of what's actually worth keeping. Items and equipment should not be kept simply because they have value to the outside world. Things should only be kept if they are of value to the organization. It's hard for a lot of people to get past that concept.

Truth: 5S is a tool, but it is not "just a tool. Everything from organization to cleanliness is looked at. In addition, it also emphasizes the practice of being proactive versus reactive. Truth: Even though the practice of 5S is usually one of the most basic and one of the first Lean tools attempted by many businesses, that does not mean it is "easy.

In addition, employee involvement is key. Employees need to "buy-in" and be willing to learn and participate as well. Truth: 5S is so much more than applying some floor tape or adding some labeling to shelving units. Do we have what we need? Is something amiss? Is that gauge operating in a desired region? Has the correct reagent been placed at the correct location of the synthesizer?