As with most growing organizations, Charger Robotics is facing some challenges with regard to available work and storage space.  Therefore we must make sure that we're treating these areas with care and are using our spaces as efficiently as possible.

6S is a simple system that creates an organized and productive workplace while acknowledging the importance of workplace safety.  It's about creating a safer work environment that can adapt and enable us to succeed in a changing environment.


6S builds upon the 5S systematic approach to workplace organization with an added step focused solely on safety.  While it can be argued that safety is built into the foundation of the 5S system, the added step centered around safety guarantees that it will be addressed in the process.

when implemented correctly and followed diligently, 6S will:

  • Increase team member satisfaction

  • Reduce program costs

  • Increase robot build quality

  • Increase meeting productivity


The principles of 5S were originally developed by Hiroyuki Hirano for manufacturing companies in Japan.  However, these principles translate well to a wide variety of work environments and office spaces.  In fact, almost any work environment will benefit from the structure and efficiency the 5S & 6S models provide.


1.)  SORT

Decide what is needed, and what isn't.


Original Japanese word:  Seiri


Sort is the process of removing all the items not needed for the current production from the workplace.

Sort is the cornerstone of 6S and will help get rid of problems such as:

  • Wasted time looking for parts, tools, and products

  • Stockpiling unnecessary and expensive inventory

  • Safety hazards resulting from clutter

  • Tools and materials impeding workflow

The goal of Sort is to eliminate all the unneeded tools and materials and create a space free of clutter.  This gives us more flexibility and the opportunity to use space more efficiently, as well as removing distractions.

In industry, a good rule of thumb is:  "If you don't use it on a daily basis, eliminate it."  Leave only the things that you absolutely need to get your job done, and "red-tag" the rest.  This includes tools, materials, and machinery.

When executing the Sort step, we must be vigilant and ruthless.  Doing this first step correctly will lay the groundwork for 6S and ensure a successful implementation of the 6S model.

Identifying unneeded parts and tools is not always an easy task.  Mentors and team members can get so used to the chaos and clutter that they don't even see it anymore.

"When in doubt, throw it out." (or recycle it)



A place for everything, and everything in its place.

Original Japanese word:  Seiton


Set in Order is the process of putting everything in a place that is easy to get to.  All items should be clearly marked so anyone can easily find its proper home.

The goal of Set in Order is to create a standardized and consistent way to store and retrieve tools and materials.  The key here is standardization.  The system should be based on how often the tools and materials are accessed and the process that uses them.

Some guidelines to consider:

  • Put stray items in their correct place.

  • Put frequently used items closest to their use point.

  • If items are used together, store them together.

  • Arrange tools and materials in order of use.

  • Place items so that the user doesn't need to bend or twist much to access them.

Put things back in the correct location.


3.)  SHINE

Clean the workplace and tools completely.

Original Japanese word:  Seiso


Shine means removing all the dirt and grime and keeping the workplace clean on a daily basis.  Get it clean and keep it clean!

There are a few purposes to implement Shine. 


  1. Mentors and team members will enjoy coming to meetings to work and learn in a clean environment.

  2. Leaders from corporate sponsors, representatives from government, and private donors will see that we respect our surroundings and equipment and may be more willing to support us with future endeavors.

  3. Tools and equipment that are kept in great shape result in fewer breakdowns and fewer injuries.

  4. Increased sanitation reduces illness and team member absences.

Cleaning is everyone's responsibility.  While most of our work areas take place inside a school where janitorial staff tackle large jobs, the detailed cleaning (especially of our own tools, parts, and property) should still be done by our team members.  Dirt and unnecessary chaos are intolerable in a FIRST Robotics organization!

Ensure the workplace is ready for the next person.



Create a standard and check it.

Original Japanese word:  Seiketsu


Standardize creates a system of tasks and procedures that ensure the principles of 6S are performed on a daily basis.

The Standardize pillar utilizes a set of schedules and checklists that can be easily followed so each step of 6S is performed exactly the same way every day.

When done correctly, every team member knows what they need to do, when they need to do it, and exactly how to do it.

Non-conformity can be unproductive in our work environments.  While we all have our own way of doing things (which can be great in our personal lives), things will get missed and conditions will slowly deteriorate.

Keep everything uniform and according to a procedure.

1.)  Make sure each team member knows their responsibilities.

They should have a clear understanding of their daily and weekly Sort, Set to Order, and Shine tasks.

Their responsibilities should be clearly written out on a checklist or chart so they can be easily accessed throughout the meeting.

2.)  Make it part of the daily routine.

Properly trained team members will execute the steps of 6S without even thinking about it.

"That wrench is out of place.  Its home is here."

No extra thought is needed.  Team members flow through their routine because they can see that it makes sense.

3.)  Periodic evaluation.

Once the steps are in place, Charger Robotics will begin evaluating performance and auditing procedures at regular intervals.

If team members have procedures to follow to complete the steps, we can ensure long-term success and reap the rewards of 6S.


Create a habit out of 6S.


Original Japanese word:  Shitsuke


Sustain gives our team members the commitment and motivation to follow each step, each day.

Diligence is the name of the game, here.

We must take concrete steps to ensure 6S doesn't fall by the wayside.  Without motivation, the team will inevitably start to slip back into old habits.

Delegate a time and person to regularly audit the process.



Identify and eliminate other workplace risks.

Not part of the original concept of 5S.


Safety makes it easier for team members to learn and perform their work without tripping, slipping, experiencing an ergonomic injury, etc.

One of the guiding principles of all Lean methodologies is to eliminate waste.  Therefore, it makes perfect sense that safety issues that cause delays, damage, or injuries to team members would need to be eliminated.

The 6th S helps Charger Robotics stay safe so that team members stay protected and activities can continue without interruption.