The Complete Guide to the 5S Audit

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Published on:
28 August 2023
Updated on:
15 February 2024

Are you overseeing manufacturing systems that require more than just a basic audit and inspection? Across the EU, the 5S audit process is becoming increasingly popular for assessing and improving workplace efficiency.

Ensuring a streamlined process and a clutter-free working environment is crucial for the effective functioning of manufacturing units. The 5S system – a systems and process organisation system – helps you maintain cleanliness, orderliness, and efficiency in the work area.

Studies show that the 5S audit process can help increase productivity, reduce waste and rework, and improve safety conditions. Best of all, when implemented from the manufacturing floor to the front office, it can reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction.

But how do you measure the effectiveness of your 5S implementation? This is where the 5S audit comes in. Let’s dive deeper into understanding the 5S system, its audits, and how Azumuta’s digital checklists can elevate your audit processes.

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What is the 5S System?

The 5S system is a structured methodology rooted in the Japanese manufacturing context, aiming to optimise workplace organisation, efficiency, and safety.

By implementing 5S, manufacturing processes can be streamlined, waste reduced, and productivity boosted. Each of the five “S” stands for a specific step, and together they form a holistic approach to maintaining a clean, organised, and efficient workspace.

Seiri (Sort)

The first step of the 5S system starts with organisation. Seiri involves going through all the items in a workspace and removing those that are not needed regularly. It aims to declutter the workspace and keep only essential items.

On a manufacturing floor or a machine shop, operators might have a variety of tools and equipment scattered around their station. During the “Sort” phase, they would identify and remove any tools that are not frequently used, ensuring that only the most relevant tools are within easy reach, reducing the time spent searching for them.

2. Seiton (Set in order)

Once non-essential items have been sorted out, this step ensures that the remaining items are organised in a manner that they can be easily accessed and used. A place for everything and everything in its place is the guiding principle.

In the same machine shop, operators would then organise the retained tools in a logical order, perhaps by frequency of use or size. Tools might be placed on pegboards, labeled, and shadowed, so it’s evident where each tool belongs and when one is missing.

3. Seiso (Shine)

Seiso focuses on cleaning and inspecting the workspace, ensuring everything is in good working condition. Regular cleaning can also act as a form of inspection to detect any abnormalities early on.

Let’s return to the machine shop example. After daily operations, the machine shop floor might be covered in metal shavings, grease, or oil spills. The “Shine” phase would involve cleaning these up and inspecting the machines for any leaks or malfunctions that might have caused the spills, addressing potential issues before they escalate.

2. Seiketsu (Standardise)

With the first three steps in place, this phase emphasises establishing standards to maintain the new orderliness. It involves setting up regular tasks, schedules, and procedures to maintain the newly organised workspace.

In manufacturing, a shop might implement a checklist that operators must complete at the start and end of their shifts. This could include tasks like checking tool inventory, cleaning specific parts of their workstation or performing basic machine diagnostics. This ensures that the benefits of the first three S’s are sustained.

5. Shitsuke (Sustain)

The final step – Shitsuke – all about creating a culture where the standards set in the previous step are maintained. This involves regular training, audits, and continuous improvement to ensure the 5S principles become a part of the company’s DNA.

The machine shop could conduct monthly 5S audits where teams evaluate how well they adhere to the 5S principles. Regular training sessions could be held to onboard new employees or refresh the existing ones.

Recognising and rewarding teams or individuals who excel in maintaining the 5S standards can also reinforce the importance of sustaining the improvements.

What are the Typical 5S Audit Questions?

As you can imagine, the 5S system can bring plenty of benefits to the manufacturing sector. But a system is only as valuable as its implementation and execution – which is why 5S audits are so important.

5S audits ensure consistent application and adherence to the 5S principles. By posing focused questions for each “S,” organisations can pinpoint areas of strength and those requiring improvement. Here are five questions for each of the 5S principles:

Seiri (Sort)

  1. Are all items in the workspace deemed necessary for current operations?
  2. Can any items be removed, recycled, or relocated to optimise the workspace?
  3. Is there a clear distinction between necessary and unnecessary items?
  4. Are items used infrequently kept separately from those used regularly?
  5. How frequently is the workspace assessed for redundant or obsolete items?

Seiton (Set in order)

  1. Are tools and equipment arranged in a logical order for ease of access?
  2. Do clear, designated places exist for all items?
  3. Are tools and materials located near their point of use to minimise movement?
  4. Are storage methods (like shadow boards) in use for easy tool identification and placement?
  5. Are pathways, borders, and zones clearly marked and labeled?

Seiso (Shine)

  1. Is the workspace visibly clean, with no signs of dirt, dust, or spills?
  2. Are cleaning supplies easily accessible and located near areas that require regular cleaning?
  3. Is there a routine cleaning schedule in place and followed consistently?
  4. After cleaning, are tools and machines inspected for defects or wear?
  5. Do employees take initiative to clean and maintain their personal workspaces?

Seiketsu (Standardise)

  1. Are standarised procedures documented and displayed visibly for all tasks and processes?
  2. Do checklists or visual aids exist to guide cleaning and organising activities?
  3. Is there consistency in how different workspaces or workstations are organised and maintained?
  4. Are employees trained on the 5S principles and their specific roles in maintaining standards?
  5. Are there regular reviews to update and refine the standarised processes?

Shitsuke (Sustain)

  1. Is there an ongoing commitment from leadership to support and enforce 5S principles?
  2. Are 5S audits conducted regularly to evaluate adherence and identify areas for improvement?
  3. Are employees empowered to suggest and implement improvements in the 5S system?
  4. Is there a feedback mechanism in place for employees to report challenges or successes with the 5S system?
  5. How are teams or individuals recognised or rewarded for consistently upholding or improving upon the 5S standards?

Using a 5s audit sheet or a digital checklist? Pros and Cons

Traditionally, 5S audits have been conducted with paper-based checklists. This is an effective method to score standards of cleanliness and orderliness, but it can be time-consuming and inefficient – especially when multiple audits need to be conducted.

Digital checklists are increasingly being used as they offer a number of advantages, such as speed and accuracy in data collection, real-time reporting that can help identify areas for improvement, or the ability to run analytics on the collected data. Let’s look at the pros and cons of different 5S audit checklist methods:

Pros of a digital checklist:

  • Flexibility: Can be accessed from any device.
  • Collaboration: Tools like Azumuta allow managers and operators to collaborate, and add images, videos, and other interactive elements directly from the shop floor.
  • Eco-friendly: Reduce the use of paper and enhance sustainability measures.
  • Automation: Results are easily stored in a centralised database for further review and analysis.
  • Accuracy: Digital checklists enable data accuracy across multiple audits, reducing the risk of human error.
  • Actionable Data: Collected data can be used to identify trends or areas of improvement over time.

Cons of a digital checklist:

  • Initial Set-up Time: Transitioning from paper to digital might require training.
  • Cost: An upfront investment is needed for the hardware and software setup.
  • Security Concerns: Digital systems should include a secure data system to protect against unauthorised access.

Pros of a paper-based checklist:

  • Simplicity: Easy to use without much technical know-how.
  • No Dependency: Not reliant on power or internet connectivity.
  • Lower Cost: Requires minimal setup and no additional hardware or software costs.

Cons of a paper-based checklist:

  • Time-Consuming: Manual data entry adds an extra step and time – particularly when updating or retrieving information.
  • Security Risk: Paper checklists can be easily accessed by an unauthorised user, leading to potential misuse of data.
  • Inefficiency: Without integration into a larger system, paper-based checklists cannot provide real-time updates on progress or tasks completed.
  • Limited Analysis Ability: Difficult to accurately track progress over time without digital records.

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5S Audit Checklist

To ensure that your audit covers all necessary aspects, a comprehensive 5S audit checklist is essential. Azumuta offers a thorough 5S audit checklist to guide you through the process – helping you ensure that the workplace is properly organised and meets safety and efficiency standards.

In general, a 5S audit checklist should include:

  • Layout of the workplace and safety standards
  • Evaluation ofthe physical condition of the facility
  • Proper functioning of tools, machinery, and equipment
  • Adequate supply chain management systems
  • organisation of materials according to 5S principles
  • Effectiveness of visual control systems, such as labels and signs

The results of the audit should be documented, and any areas identified as needing improvement should be addressed. One of the best ways to do this is with a 5S Audit Scorecard.

The Results: How Does a 5S audit scorecard look like?

The 5S audit scorecard is a structured tool designed to measure and document adherence to the 5S principles within an organisation. It provides a clear, visual representation of the current state of compliance, offering insights into areas of strength and potential improvement.

Features of a 5S Audit Scorecard:

  • Sections for Each Principle: The scorecard should be divided into sections for each of the five S’s – Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardise, and Sustain.
  • Criteria or Questions: Within each section, a set of questions or criteria should be based on the specific tasks or standards associated with that principle.
  • Scoring System: Each question or criterion will typically have a scoring system, often from 1 to 5 (1 being non-compliant and 5 being fully compliant).
  • Notes/Comments Area: There should be space for notes or comments for each criterion to provide context or suggestions for improvement.
  • Summary or Total Score Section: At the bottom or end of the scorecard, there should be a section that totals the scores from each section, giving an overall assessment of 5S compliance.
  • Date and Auditor’s Name: To keep track of progress over time, the scorecard should have a place to record the audit’s date and the auditor’s name.

The Key Takeaway

The 5S system, with its emphasis on organisation and standardisation, is an invaluable tool for businesses aiming to maximise efficiency. Regular 5S audits ensure these principles are upheld and refined.

Digital tools like Azumuta make the audit process more efficient and enhance collaboration, making it easier for teams to identify and resolve issues. As a leader in digital solutions for manufacturing floors, Azumuta takes your 5S audit to the next level.

Learn more about how Azumuta can help you implement, track, and maintain a 5S audit system for every aspect of your business – and discover how much more efficient and successful your team can be.

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