Sort

The first pillar of the 6S system is Sort. Sort is the process of removing all the items that are not needed for current production from the workspace. The
goal is to eliminate all of the unneeded tools and materials and to create a space that is free of clutter- this allows for a workflow free from distraction.

If you do not use it on a daily basis – throw it out. Leave only the things that you absolutely need to get you job done. This includes tools, materials and
machinery.

Sorting is the cornerstone of 5S. It will get rid of problems like:

• Tools and materials impeding workflow
• Wasted time looking for parts and tools
• Stockpiling unnecessary and expensive inventory
• Safety hazards resulting from clutter

The sort principle borrows from the model of JIT, or Just-in-Time. The focus is having “the right material, at the right time, at the right place, and in the exact amount.”

Identifying unneeded parts and tools is not always an easy task. Employees and managers get so used to the chaos that they don’t even see it anymore. 6S has an effective tool that will help you with your sort – it’s called the Red-Tag Strategy.

The red-tag strategy is a great way to identify all of the objects that need to be removed from the workplace. When you see something that you think may need to be removed, you literally put a red tag on it. This is a flag that lets everyone know that this item needs to be evaluated.

When something has a red tag on it, you can now ask some questions about it.

• Do we need this item?
• If so, how many do we need at the workstation?
• If we need it, should we leave it here or move it to a new location?

Once you ask these questions, you can now put the item in its proper place.
You have the following options:

• Leave the item where it is.
• Dispose of the item
• Relocate the item
• Put it in a red-tag holding area.

The red-tag holding area is a place where you can put items that you aren’t completely sure about yet. Perhaps you’re not sure of the quantity that you need at the workstation. Or maybe you don’t know how often you need it.

Some tools or materials may just be hard to get rid of because you have had them so long. In this case the holding area can just serve to make this transition easier. It takes some of the emotion away from the process.

When executing the Sort step, you must be vigilant and ruthless. Utilize the holding area for all items for which you are not sure. Doing this first step
correctly will lay the groundwork and ensure a successful implementation of the 6S model.