The 6S Method – The Lean Tool For Increasing Efficiency And Productivity

Efficiency And Productivity

To standardize work processes, many companies first establish the 5S method as part of lean management – what many still need to learn is that the 6S method already exists. This esteemed Lean success tool is a quick and easy way to organize work, where each task flow was originally divided into five, now even six steps. The goal is to minimize non-value-adding activities that would lead to waste to increase efficiency.

The 6S Method Defines Six Steps For Productive Work.


This first step is about creating order and an overview. Therefore, only the materials needed for the forthcoming work process should be available. The rest is consistently sorted out and put out of sight.


The arrangement of the work materials should be consistent when using the 6S method so that a long-term learning effect is achieved. Visual aids, such as boards or overview plans, can provide support, answering questions such as: How should the compartments for the materials be labeled? Which parts are used more often than others? Where are materials that are used particularly often? And where are those that are rarely used?


Maintenance intervals can significantly increase if machines or tools are maintained and kept clean. In addition, damage can be identified early and repaired more quickly. Point three of the 6S method should be addressed under any circumstances.


If the steps of the 6S method described so far are made the standard for all departments and different work steps, every employee can find their way around more quickly, regardless of their position in the company. Because in the future, everyone will know where to find which parts. Forms, checklists, or photos with understandable schedules for everyone also serve as good support.

Self-discipline and constant improvement

This step is probably the most difficult of the 6S method: if you don’t hold yourself to the pre-established standards as closely as possible, it will be difficult to avoid waste. Here again, the basic requirement of lean management becomes clear: all employees must practice the lean culture equally. If individual parts of the system don’t play their part, waste is the logical consequence.

However, all employees must be convinced of the strategy and adhere to the guidelines to do this. Deviations must be recognized and continuously improved. Regular checks ensure compliance and improvements can be achieved. The 6S method is, therefore, a continuous cycle and never a one-off process – like none of the proven lean methods.


This 6th point has been separate from the 6S method for so long. But that doesn’t make it any less important. Especially nowadays, occupational safety plays an increasingly important role in everyday working life, especially in production. This latest and last point is therefore aimed at ensuring that the safety of employees is always taken into account during the implementation of an activity, i.e., occupational safety is guaranteed as best as possible.

The 6S Method Is Also Used In Private Life.

Based on the six aspects described, the 6S method makes work processes much more structured and thus enables more productive work. The nice thing about it is that you can apply this method to any process in everyday life, including outside of the production environment.

An example from everyday life: Would you like to cook a meal for friends? First of all, you should eliminate all unnecessary work materials in your kitchen that do not belong in the kitchen. This is the only way to keep track. Then it’s time to gather all the ingredients you need for your meal. This includes not only the food but also the kitchen appliances and tools. Are the potatoes peeled? Then please: Put the bowl in the garbage and the peeler straight into the dishwasher. Attention – don’t let the children distract you! Self-discipline is required. The spatula is always put back in the same drawer so that there is no unnecessary searching.

Of course, you’ve thought of everything: Label the sugar and salt to avoid an embarrassing surprise with your perfect dinner. And that gives? Exactly – safety! No bloodbath with the cucumber slicer or nervous breakdowns because the milk has boiled over. And your roommates will also find it easy to find their way around in the kitchen since everything is standardized.

Now back to working life in production. How do experts rate the 6S method?

The 6S Method Must Convince Your Employees.

Order and cleanliness are principles that seem more sensible to some employees. In addition, it is a very individual feeling whether something is neat or not. This can no longer be “trained” even in adults and is often a question of personality. Therefore, process control and standardization are of great importance. Managers must act as role models and convince all employees of the advantages and benefits so that the principle can work.

It should be avoided that people feel controlled and perceive the measures as “bureaucratic.” It is all the more important to draw the employees’ attention to the grievances beforehand and sensitize them to them, so they understand the meaning behind the measures and do not feel patronized. Introducing incentive systems for compliance with standards, for example, employing bonuses or bonuses, can increase reliability.

Also Read: How To Manage Situations With Conflicting Employees?

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