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5s in Lean Six Sigma: Here’s What You Need to Know

5s lean six sigma

Organizations today look for the best ways to stay competitive in an increasingly challenging environment. This desire has given rise to tools and methodologies such as Six Sigma to help reduce waste, improve productivity, and increase customer satisfaction.

This article focuses on the 5S principle of workplace organization. Although the 5S concept is often mentioned in the context of Six Sigma, you will see that the two processes are different. First, we’ll review the definition of Six Sigma, including Lean Six Sigma, a breakdown of the 5S steps, additional options you can use along with 5S Lean SIx Sigma, and the environmental performance implications.

Before launching into the intricacies of 5S Lean Six Sigma, let’s review what Six Sigma is.

What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is a production method that attempts to standardize production processes so that all produced goods fall within the manufacturer’s specifications. The reasoning behind Six Sigma is that companies can create a higher quality product with fewer defects if they standardize the production process. Ideally, this standardization will lead to lower costs and happier, satisfied customers. Companies must undergo a rigorous certification process to achieve Six Sigma compliance, and once certified, they must maintain compliance via regular audits.

According to Six Sigma guidelines, only 3.4 units are defective out of every million attempts. This method originates in the world of statistics, where the Greek letter sigma symbolizes a standard deviation.

Lean Six Sigma combines Six Sigma with the Lean methodology. Lean is a methodology used to optimize flow and remove waste, streamlining the transactional and manufacturing processes while providing customers with the best value. This process dovetails nicely with Six Sigma’s process improvement strategy (e.g., reducing defects and boosting product quality and quantity).

And although people may use the phrase “5S Six Sigma” as if it were a thing, we’re about to see that 5S and Lean Six Sigma are most definitely not the same. However, 5S and the Lean methodology indeed share a connection.

Also Read: Six Sigma Principles: A Comprehensive Guide to Implementing and Optimizing Your Processes

The Definition and Breakdown of 5S Lean Six Sigma

The philosophy of 5S presents a method of focusing and thinking to organize better and manage a workspace. The 5S methodology targets the eight wastes defined by the Lean Manufacturing system and is one of Lean manufacturing’s most popular and fundamental components. It’s a simple, common-sense application that is a highly reliable and effective stabilizing force for Lean strategies.

Lean manufacturing’s eight wastes are:

1) Transport. This waste form covers any material movement that doesn’t directly support production.

2) Inventory. Inventory waste covers any excess of process requirement supplies typically necessary to create goods and services.

3) Motion. Motion waste covers any personnel movement that doesn’t contribute additional value to the product. This waste includes moving equipment, reaching or bending, or assembling tools more than needed.

4) Waiting. Waiting waste covers any idle time that results when codependent events aren’t fully synchronized.

5) Overproduction. This waste form is straightforward: it covers producing more than is needed, faster than required, or before it’s needed.

6) Overprocessing. Overprocessing covers redundant efforts in production or communication that don’t add value to the product or service.

7) Defects. Defect waste refers to the loss of value due to the scrapping, repairing, or reworking a product that doesn’t conform to established specifications.

8) Unutilized Talent. Unutilized talent refers to either making employees perform unnecessary work or not using the full range of an employee’s skills and talents in the right ways. This waste issue also covers assigning highly talented professionals to do what amounts to “grunt work.”

Lean manufacturing seeks to eliminate these eight forms of waste. The 5S Lean Six Sigma process helps achieve this.

The 5S process organizes a workspace to make it safer, more efficient, and more effective. 5S’s goal is to create a clean, uncluttered workspace that allows employees to do their jobs without wasting time and in an injury-free work environment.

The five S’s represent the five steps, based on the original Japanese words of seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke, but translated into English to sort, set, shine, standardize and sustain.

1) Sort (Seiri). Telling the difference between unnecessary and necessary things and removing what isn’t needed. This process includes classifying and tagging items and removing broken or outdated items from the work area.

2) Set or Straighten (Seiton). In other words, a place for everything and everything in its place. Seiton is the practice of storing things in an orderly fashion so the correct item can be chosen quickly and efficiently, easily accessible to all, thereby eliminating waste.

3) Shine (Seiso). Create and maintain a clean workspace without trash, dust, or dirt, so problems (spills, leaks, damage, overflow) can be more easily identified. This process includes keeping the area well-lit, keeping equipment and tools clean, making cleaning a daily activity, and allowing only one work activity per workstation.

4) Standardize (Seiketsu). This stage involves creating standards for a clean workplace. Standardization includes a set of best practices through visual management, maintaining consistency across all areas, ensuring that abnormalities are visible to management, and creating processes for maintaining standards, including setting up roles and responsibilities.

5) Sustain (Shitsuke). This phase is the most difficult to maintain. It involves implementing habits and behaviors designed to maintain the company’s established standards over the long term and ensuring that the efforts to keep the workplace organized remain the key to managing the process for success. This stage involves a leader committed to establishing and maintaining responsibilities, everyone being “all in” and making these activities a habit, addressing the causes rather than the symptoms, regular reviews and audits, and continuous 5S improvement.

Some sources call 5S one of Lean Six Sigma’s most effective tools. In contrast, most other sources consider Sigma Six and 5S to be completely different entities that sometimes overlap.

Also Read: Six Sigma vs. Lean Six Sigma: Which Methodology Is Right for Your Business?

Other Options to be Included in 5S Lean Six Sigma

As with many such methodologies, 5S has different variations depending on the organization implementing the plan. For example, many organizations add three additional “S” options to their 5S process: Safety and Spirit.

1) Safety. Although safety is implied in the original 5S methodology, it’s also true that we need to emphasize safety more strongly. In the context of 5S, safety covers protection against physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, financial, occupational, educational, or other types or consequences of damage, accident, failure, error, or harm. This practice is critical in work environments involving heavy equipment, warehouses, construction, healthcare, or toxic chemicals.

2) Spirit. This option involves a willingness to cooperate and function as part of a team (think of the phrase “team spirit”). Spirit covers changing and maintaining corporate culture with all levels of employee engagement.

Some people even add an eighth element to the mix: Security! However, many organizations stick with the original 5S, which means fewer items to remember, and prevents things from getting too cumbersome.

Implications for Environmental Performance

So, what does the 5S Lean Six Sigma methodology mean for environmental performance? Here’s a list of the potential benefits.

1) 5S Six Sigma implementation could reduce the required square footage thanks to better organization and removing wasteful materials from storage. In addition, this decreased footprint requires less energy to heat and illuminate, thereby reducing overhead.

2) Removing obstacles and clearly marking main thoroughfares reduces potential accidents resulting in spills and other hazardous waste issues.

3) Regular cleaning prevents the accumulation of dirt, shavings, dust, cuttings, and other materials that could contaminate the production process, resulting in defects.

4) Painting machines and equipment in light colors and routinely cleaning the windows decrease energy needs associated with lighting.

5) Painting and cleaning also make it easier for workers to notice leaks and spills, decreasing spill response quickly.

6) Organizing materials, equipment, and parts to be easier to find can significantly reduce unnecessary consumption. Consequently, employees are more likely to use up one batch of chemicals or materials before opening a new container or ordering more. This practice results in fewer materials or chemicals expiring and requiring disposal.

Note:Lean Six Sigma Belts, such as Green, Black, and Master Black Belts, play crucial roles in driving process improvement initiatives and ensuring their successful implementation within an organization.

Also Read: Value Stream Mapping in Six Sigma

Do You Want Six Sigma Certification?

The Six Sigma methodology helps organizations achieve better results, process improvement, and grow and retain their customer base. Therefore, today’s businesses need Lean Six Sigma professionals to help streamline their processes and keep them competitive.

If you’re intrigued by this career prospect, you can acquire a good position in this field if you participate in Six Sigma certification training. In collaboration with the University of Massachusetts, Simplilearn presents a Lean Six Sigma certification bootcamp that gives you the tools to tackle Six Sigma issues and become a valuable, sought-after professional.

This six-month online certification course is aligned with IASSC-Lean Six Sigma and provides comprehensive skill training in the following disciplines:

  • Agile Management
  • Digital Transformation
  • Lean Management
  • Lean Six Sigma Black Belt
  • Lean Six Sigma Green Belt
  • Minitab
  • Quality Management

Once you finish the bootcamp, you will gain your certificate and an alum membership to the prestigious UMass Amherst Alumni Association.

According to Salary.com, Six Sigma Green Belt professionals in the United States make an average salary of $111,800 per year ranging from $71,490 to $123,386. However, these numbers typically vary depending on the region or city, the applicant’s experience level, and the current economic conditions.

So, sign up for this Lean Six Sigma bootcamp today, and equip yourself with the full range of necessary Lean Six Sigma skills. You will be ready to handle concepts such as 5S Lean Six Sigma, Lean methodology, and more, and have many exciting career options at your fingertips. Join up today!

You might also like to read:

Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Exam Questions and Answers

A Deep Dive Into the Five Phases of Lean Six Sigma

Six Sigma Methodologies for Process Improvement

Process Mapping in Six Sigma: Here’s All You Need to Know

What Are the Elements of a Six Sigma Project Charter?

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