5S Audit Checklist: Everything You Need to Know

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Lean manufacturing has many schools of thought. It can follow from 5S, kaizen, gemba, kanban, heijunka, and poka-yoke. They have been applied across all industries. For example, properly implementing 5S leads to having clean, unobstructed, and organized workspaces.

5S audits, traditionally done on paper, have embraced the digital age. This helps to capture their initial datasets more accurately. This is inclusive of highly detailed images and explanations that can lead to easier implementations of any improvements, streamlining the process.

There’s no need to loathe or fear audits, including the 5S audit. We’re going to take the time here to break down exactly what this audit is all about and how you can best prepare yourself. Preparation for this audit is also a good spot check to help with seeing if everything else is running well.

Many may associate audits with negative connotations due to their rigorous preparations. Still, when it comes to 5S, it’s actually a useful tool that gave birth to the concept of just-in-time (JIT) Manufacturing. It’s a lean operational methodology developed in Japan by the Toyota Motor Company. This concept helps assembly lines to be extremely efficient and produce only exactly what is needed when it is needed. This naturally brings top-notch efficiency to any industry.

We created a basic 5S audit checklist and report that provides a structured way to audit your operations and standard procedures, according to the 5S principles.


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5s auditing: why and when?

Introducing structured 5S audit in your organization is the answer to quickly improve yourself in your organization. 5s is a basic condition for your continuous improvement culture. With a 5s audit you investigate where you stand and immediately make an improvement in your company. Make your workplace or production as clear and standardized as possible and eliminate waste!

What is 5s auditing?

The 5th step of the 5S audit method is about the discipline to use and maintain the 5S system on a daily basis. In the most successful companies, we see that 5S has become a permanent habit and is part of the corporate culture. A critical element in the assurance is the frequent conduct of audits in which the state of the workplace is assessed. And that is a nice, not to be underestimated task for department employees, management and everyone with a nice fresh look.

The 5s lean method comes from Japan. It is a method of working more efficiently. The system strives for order and tidiness in the workplace. That aspiration is organized into 5 principles, all starting with the letter S:

Seiri – Sort = Away with redundancy

Sorting or cleaning up here means distinguishing between what is necessary and what is unnecessary. The unnecessary must disappear. These include broken or damaged objects, objects that have not been used for a long time or are unsafe. The risk of falling, tripping, impact, damage and injury is considerably reduced and the passageways are widened. A practical system for separating objects is to look at all the objects present and wonder why this object is here. If it is unclear, an object will receive a red card asking what to do with the object. A criterion for this can be the frequency of use: keep only those things that are needed in the workplace for the production of the coming week. The different usage frequencies are taken into account when sorting. The 5S supervisor asks the questions and makes proposals, but the employee / user ultimately decides for himself.

Seton – Set in order = Everything in its place, a place for everything

Setting in order means giving the tools a permanent place, organizing the workplace in such a way that everyone can find everything quickly and easily: a suitable place for everything and everything in its suitable place. This takes into account ergonomics and hygiene. Everything at your fingertips, for example.

Seiso – Shine = inspecting

Shine means the cleaning of walls, floors and all objects (machines, utensils, storage systems, …), but also the prevention of contamination by eliminating causes of malfunctions and incidents, such as switching off sources of pollution . It is also the definition of cleaning methods, standards and responsibilities, drawing up rules and standards. Cleaning increased and safety and reduced the chance of rejection. Cleaning is also an aid to keep the machine in optimal condition. Consider, for example, inspecting during cleaning. The abnormalities found can be reported to the relevant person and replaced or repaired during preventive maintenance.

Seiketsu – Standardize – Capture and Recognition

Standardization gives sustainability to the first three steps. The first three S’s become a habit by introducing methods that capture these first stages. Some methods are: using visual aids (demarcation with lines, colors, …), everyone knows who, what, why, how of the workplace, the people involved can quickly distinguish between normal and abnormal,. .. Unforeseen circumstances involve risks. These surprises are kept to a minimum by standardized procedures.

Shitsuke – Sustain/ Self-discipline = A waste-free workplace forever

Sustainability means securing the other four pillars, ensuring preservation and continuity, and always following standardized procedures. Tools are checklists or audits on order and cleanliness. The audit results can be published via tables or figures and personal or theme objectives can be agreed so that a regular evaluation of these scores is possible.

What does a 5s audit do for my company?

The application of 5s audits is a step-by-step process. To monitor progress and level, use 5s audits and 5s assessment. A good audit tells how far you are on each of the 5 S’s and helps you get to the next level. By carrying out these audits regularly you can identify improvements and get the best out of your production or organization. In that way it is really important for companies to do it on a regular base in this digital age.

5s audits are therefore not a necessary evil, they are interim milestones that are part of a larger plan. When this idea is rooted in your organization, everyone can see the audits as a motivating moment with plenty of room to show and celebrate joint successes.

How often should the audit be performed?

5S audits are carried out regularly to assess whether production is being carried out at the right level and to determine whether the improvements that have been made are paying off. A 5s lean audit can be conducted once every 3 months, but also once a week, if you want quick feedback on a new way of working.

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