How 5S Tools Enhance Visual Management in Your Factory

5S (Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain) are principles that any industrial engineer should adhere to. Implementing them is never easy. Fortunately, some tools can help you in applying the 5S. Check out what they are on our guide here.
Two engineers in hard hats, safety goggles, and protective clothing are inspecting an industrial robot. The female engineer holds a tablet and points towards the robot, while the male engineer looks on attentively. Both wear yellow ear protectors.
Published on:
31 March 2022
Updated on:
21 February 2024

Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain are five critical stages in lean manufacturing for keeping an efficient workplace and improving product quality. Conducting a lean strategy is a method for organizing workspaces based on the concept that a better working environment leads to better operations, which leads to better product quality.

A successful 5S implementation requires visual management. By merely looking at a problem, visual management aims to make a situation clear with as little observation or time as feasible. If you can see it, you can fix it.

Visual management isn’t a brand-new concept for industrial companies. Most visual management is still done on paper boards and whiteboards, as it has been for many years in the manufacturing industry.

In an era of digital transformation, manufacturing visual management has undertaken a digital make-over. In this article, we will explore what is a visual factory and how it can help you achieve the 5S principles.

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5S Tools to Create a Visual Factory

The term “visual factory” refers to a method of lean manufacturing that incorporates visual info throughout the workplace. A visual factory uses a set of communication technologies or tools to provide information when and where it is required.

Visual controls can strengthen the shopfloor by identifying equipment, products, and locations, defining procedures and processes, and offering safety alerts and preventive information.

Employees are also more productive when visual tools provide them with the necessary information when needed. That’s how companies can prevent anomalies on the shop floor.

5S Tools for Visual Management

Many of the processes in the 5S framework can benefit from visual management to help keep things organized and the process moving along smoothly. The following are some examples of tools and practices that can help with 5S organization.


Dashboards provide visual information about manufacturing processes and basic daily tasks available in a fast and consistent manner. This makes it easy to identify the state of manufacturing and highlights anomalies, waste, and scrap.


The term “Andon” translates to “lantern” or “light” in Japanese. This refers to a warning system in a production setup that warns operators when a product issue, shortage, or other issues have been found. Andon’s key feature is a cord that runs above the production line (it can also be a button).


Labels are, without a doubt, the most important organizational planning tool. A place can be labeled in a variety of ways. Mark tool drawers with labels to identify contents or label shelves with labels to indicate where bigger tools should be housed. So, container contents are indicated via labels. They can also be used to draw attention to possible dangers.

Shadow Boards

Shadow boards point to where a tool should be replaced after use and make it clear when one is missing. Trace the outline of each tool onto a pegboard, where it will be hung to make a shadow board. It’s generally indicated with a bright color.

Floor Markings

Although floor tape is self-explanatory, it has a significant visual impact on the shop floor. You may use floor tape to mark off work zones and designate specific places for pallets, raw materials, completed items, shipments, and other static locations.

Wall Signs and Banners

Other techniques for sustaining your 5S efforts include signs, posters, and banners. To show where tools and equipment are stored, large signs might be put above storage spaces. Posters can also be used to mark cleanup zones and remind employees of the importance of 5S.

Kaizen Foam

Kaizen foam is used to organize tool cabinets. Typically, lean manufacturers use kaizen foam to line tool cabinets and cut outlines of the tools from the foam. This system, like a shadow board, designates a distinct location for each tool and makes it obvious when one is missing.

A woman wearing a hard hat and safety vest operates a tablet in a modern automobile factory. Robotic arms and machinery are visible in the background, indicating an advanced, automated production environment. She appears to be inspecting or monitoring the process.

Digital 5S Solutions for Visual Management

If you are looking for digital 5s tools to optimize your shop floor processes, you’re in the right place. Manufacturing companies find it easier to use a digital approach to smoothen the process and amplify the results. Azumuta offers digital solutions for companies who want to replace their andon, kaizen, kanban, 8D boards, and many more.

Lean management has been used by industrial firms for a long time to enhance overall performance and reduce wasted time and resources. Visual management is a critical component of lean management implementation.

By using digital alternatives for visual management, companies can improve knowledge sharing and objectives amongst employees at all levels, allowing for the early screening of issues and the implementation of suitable solutions.

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Best 5s Practices of Azumuta

All-in-One Tool for Knowledge Management

Azumuta is a cloud-based knowledge hub for standard work, as well as other relevant documents and images. Our software allows operators to quickly access whatever information they require about the workspace, processes, and procedures.

Issue and Improvement Tracking

With our tracking boards, frontline workers can easily report opportunities for improvement. See the status of all issues and eliminate non-conformities. Find, track, and record events, then allocate them to the appropriate operator at the right time.

Project Management Support

With our ticketing system, operators can assign the right people to each event and set up automated reminders and alerts when issues and non-conformities are detected on the shop floor.

They are automatically documented in improvement boards so operators and management can view pending issues, defects, and actions at a glance. Tickets can be categorized on issue type, priority, and department.

Measure the Impact on the Shop Floor

Easily capture data that used to be hidden in paper forms and spreadsheets. Use our visual dashboards and identify important key performance indicators, progress, and trends of audits with real-time metrics and reports.

Ready to bring your lean practices into the 21st century? Azumuta helps manufacturing companies digitize their lean processes and boost continuous improvement on the shop floor.

Azumuta As a One-Stop Software for Your 5S Needs

Azumuta’s powerful software is a one-stop solution to comply with the 5S principles. With the Digital Work Instructions module, you can instruct your workers to clear the clutter on your shop floor, sorting out what’s necessary and not on the shop floor.

Two mobile screens display an audit app interface. The left screen shows a list of 5S audit checklists with dates. The right screen shows a specific audit checklist question asking about workplace clutter with an image of an organized industrial workspace beneath it.

Similarly, this module can also be used to achieve the Set in Order principle. Your workers can receive digital instructions directly to their PC, tablet, and smartphone to keep your production items where they should be. And, of course, these instructions are also crucial in sustaining the existing standards that you have set.

Meanwhile, the Audits and Digital Checklists module is helpful for the other two principles: Shine and Standardize. To keep things in order, it’s crucial that your project managers have a tool to evaluate whether the required tasks and procedures have been executed. And there’s no better way of doing so than with a digital checklist and audit platform such as Azumuta.

Last but not least, the Skills Matrix & Training module is equally important. With it, you can evaluate your workers’ performance and skills, as well as their knowledge and delivery of the 5S methodology. If a skills gap has been identified, you can organize training programs to close the 5S compliance gap, planned and managed using Azumuta’s one-stop industrial software.

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A profile of an assembly operator is displayed on the left side, showing categories such as Pre-Assembly, Assembly, and Testing. Adjacent charts detail tasks like Cleaning, Assembly, Packaging, Pre-Assembly, and Testing, each with numerical values.
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