6S Manufacturing – What Is It & How Does It Benefit a Machine Shop?

machine shop

A safe and efficient workplace should be a priority for every manufacturer. How you achieve those two objectives while staying in the black is a topic that has filled numerous books and training seminars. Many of those lessons will mention having a system in place to streamline your work. The 6S manufacturing system is a good example of a system almost any manufacturer or machine shops can establish and use as part of operations and machining services.

What Is 6S?

In short, 6S is a maintenance and operations system created for factories decades ago. It is a child of the 5s lean manufacturing system that evolved decades ago at Toyota. The original system had these five elements:

  1. Sort – find, tag, organization all tools, parts bins, consumables, et cetera
  2. Set – Decide what to toss, keep, or relocate then organize things for productive work
  3. Shine – Clean things up, set a schedule to keep everything nice and clean
  4. Standardize – Use what you learned in the previous steps to set rules for doing them
  5. Sustain – Keep things organized with checklists and assignments

At the end of this process, clutter has been removed, things are organized according to how and where workers use them, and rules and standard operating procedures have been refined to streamline operations.

Safety, the sixth component, came along later. The logic is simple enough: as you go through your reorganization, you identify safety hazards and take steps to remove or reduce those hazards. Those hazards may be found in how workstations are set up, how materials move from place to place, or where parts and tools are stored. Properly implemented, a 6S manufacturing system offers several benefits.


Taking the time and effort to implement 6S properly should pay off in a few ways:

Better waste management – For example, perishable chemicals or raw materials would be used before they expire, because the relevant storage area automatically has older stock in front.

· Improved workplace safety – Implementing 6S reduces the risk of an injury accident. Aside from the financial costs, accidents obviously can slow down production. Investing a relatively small amount of money can pay off.

· Less downtime – Less time spent looking for things, like small parts or tool attachments, translates to higher productivity without more pressure. The proper organization also reduces the risk of damage to parts or equipment.

· Higher employee satisfaction – Disorganization can be frustrating at work, especially when it slows down workers and disrupts their routines. Making things easy to find and removing needless clutter will help keep frustration and confusion to a minimum. When employees are happy with their working conditions, they are less likely to quit.

· Increased efficiency – Workers don’t waste as much time looking for tools and materials because they know where to find things, and things stay where they should be.

Establishing 6S manufacturing at your machining facility doesn’t have to be complicated either.

Implementing It

Quite a few organizations have seen the benefits of 6S and have started to offer checklists, templates, and online guides to help their industrial clients streamline operations. Some companies offer to consult on this and other systems.

Hiring an expert will have the usual benefits – faster implementation, and minimal risk of mistakes or poor choices. Some companies also offer advice on implementing 6S along with a variety of facility maintenance services.

Establish a System with Expert Help

Implementing 6S at a factory or machine shop offers the potential to save money, reduce accidents, increase productivity, and improve employee satisfaction. Hamilton Machine offers 6S implementation as one of our many machining services. If you need help streamlining your manufacturing processes, contact us to schedule a call.