Successful businesses always look for ways to improve operational efficiency, employee productivity and customer satisfaction. This is where the 6S Methodology can greatly benefit a business. 6S is a productivity and safety-driven culture. For facility managers, the benefits of introducing the 6S Methodology in warehouse environments include better employee performance, full utilization of machines and tools, safe work environments and more. Managers can execute the 6S method in all types of warehousing environments.
What does the 6S Methodology mean?
6S (also known as 5S + Safety) is a method which adopts the 5S pillars in lean management with an emphasis on workplace safety and risk assessment. The 6S pillars include:
- Sort: Implementing the method begins with reducing clutter and making it easier to access essential work items and regularly used items. Unnecessary items should be disposed of, stored further away from the work area, or kept off-site for future use. This pillar ensures your team can navigate your warehouse easily and create a hazard-free environment while keeping the material you need close at hand.
- Set in order: This step requires work materials or equipment deemed essential to be organized and placed in the most logical locations. Your employees should be able to retrieve items from their designated locations with ease while accessibility and space are maximized. The goal is to have a systematic way of sorting and retrieving items. In your management software, create a “home address” for your inventory so employees know where to go and you can tell when items are missing.
- Shine: The third stage includes cleaning the warehouse and maintaining an appealing look. A clean warehouse is vital to a safe and productive warehouse. This stage also involves setting preventative maintenance procedures, such as regular inspection. Cleaning equipment should be accessible and have designated places in the warehouse. The goal is to create a healthy environment, keep products clean, and prevent injuries.
- Standardize: The fourth stage emphasizes building a new workplace norm by identifying the best practices you need to be consistent with the first three stages. It aims to help you and your employees develop and create a routine for efficient habits. Managers can standardize by providing visual reminders/guides, setting expectations, and conducting regular site inspections. Communication and regular feedback are essential in this stage. Daily pre-start and end-of-shift meetings are an effective way to keep communication flowing.
- Sustain: While usually the most challenging step of the method, its goal is to ensure that your standardized procedures become a natural part of your daily operations. You can regularly measure the effectiveness of these changes or identify areas of improvement by establishing KPIs such as the number of reported accidents, equipment breakdown, employee turnover rate and customer satisfaction rate. Other KPIs, such as picking, put away, and error rates, should all see improvements.
- Safety: The final step focuses on identifying workplace hazards and setting preventative controls to keep your employees safe. The great thing about this method is that once you have successfully put the first five methods in place, it helps fulfill the safety method. It also ensures that your warehouse environment meets the required safety standards of the law.
Is this worth the time and effort?
Implementing workplace improvement policies takes work. Yet, the benefits of 6S in warehouse management outweigh any effort. Here are four reasons to consider adopting the method:
- It reduces costs by preventing waste: By adequately organizing your tools and inventory and creating an efficient layout, you can save costs and avoid waste in time and resources. You can also use the 6S method to predict the shelf life of items in your inventory and ensure they are used promptly. Shareholders or other decision-makers in your organization will also be pleased to know that costs are kept down, and waste is prevented. They may be willing to allocate more resources to your warehousing process to make it more efficient.
- Improved collaboration and performance: Implementing the 6S method reduces the opportunities to produce defects, reduces delays in the work production process and improves delivery performance. Standardized procedures can enhance collaboration by making it easier for employees to identify the next step in a process and other employees who may need help. They can train each other effectively on the same tasks. Using the same metrics to measure progress ensures everyone is working towards the same goals.
- Prevents non-compliance: The 6S method can keep you in check with health and safety regulations imposed by the ministry by maintaining a clean workplace and taking the necessary steps to prevent accidents, injuries, and violations.
- Improved customer loyalty: Your customers will notice and appreciate the time taken to improve operational efficiency and product quality. It improves their confidence and loyalty in you to deliver high-quality products and fulfillment with little to no delays or issues.
The 6S method can be adopted in many industries and businesses. It provides many benefits for employee satisfaction, efficient operations, and good customer relationships for warehousing operations. Do you need help adopting the 6S method in your warehouse management? Contact Racked Out Inc. for a warehouse assessment, a pre-start safety inspection, or any of our services to get started.