In the world of manufacturing, companies are often looking for ways to reduce errors and increase productivity. The 5S audit provides a wide scope for performing a comprehensive analysis of your work processes and your ability to produce a high-quality product. By going through a 5S audit, companies have been able to reduce defects, meaning less errors, saving money, and fewer complaints from customers.

A 5S audit is not simply a visual inspection of your facilities. A 5S audit is a systematic check of your work environment with the goal of identifying opportunities for improvement. A 5S audit identifies how well you are implementing Kaizen (continuous improvement) on the shop floor.

Conducting a 5s audit involves evaluating current work conditions and making changes to improve the workplace. The result is an organized, clean, and efficient work environment.

Finally, 5S audits are used to support the implementation of standard work. It’s important to note—the audit was not developed for the purpose of making recommendations. It is simply an analysis of the standards and suggestions outlined by supervisors at a given manufacturing site.

Benefits of conducting a 5 s audit

There are many benefits of conducting a 5S audit in your plant, but some of the key benefits to 5s audits are as follows:

  • Organizing space needed for storage - Removing unwanted and unorganized items from the workspace not only reduces unneeded clutter on the shop floor, but also creates more space for value-added work and a healthy work environment.
  • Improved maintenance processes - By following daily processes for cleaning and fixing machines and equipment within your facility, maintenance activities become simpler and more streamlined, and breakdowns become less common.
  • Improved safety - The process of cleaning and organizing a workspace inherently reduces the potential for safety incidents within the work environment.
  • Increased employee morale - When employees are bought into the 5s audit process, they demonstrate a higher commitment to the values that 5s outlines. This ensures that everyone across the organization does their part to maintain a clean, organized, and efficient workspace.

Using a 5S checklist to streamline your audits

After the initial implementation of 5S, companies often develop checklists of things they need to check to ensure standards and suggestions are being followed. These checklists are called 5S Checklists.

While maintaining top-notch safety standards in a work environment can be an ongoing challenge for manufacturers, streamlining the process with a 5S checklist can make it easier and more efficient to stay up to date on your safety measures.

It’s important to note that no two 5S audits are the same. Therefore, checklists can be a handy tool to help guide operators from task to task without missing any steps along the way.

24 sample questions to use in your 5S audit

1S - Sort

1. Are there any unneeded materials or parts around?

2. Are there any unused machines or other equipment (jigs, tools, pallets, dies, or similar items) around?

3. Are the vital controls clear and definitive enough to see when something is out of place?

4. Only documents to the job are stored at the work zone. Are these documents stored nicely and visible?


2S - Set in order

5. Are shelves and other storage areas marked with location indicators?

6. Is everything in its home with exception of things currently being used for the job?

7. Are the machines wiped clean often and kept free of shavings, fibers, and oil?

8. Are maximum and minimum allowable quantities indicated (Kanban)?

9. Are lines or markers used to clearly indicate walkway and storage areas?


3S - Shine

10. Are floors kept shiny, clean, and free of waste, dust, and/or oil?

11. Are the machines wiped clean often and kept free of waste, dust, and/or oil?

12. Is there a cleaning checklist being followed that is effective?

13. Is it clear (understood and communicated) who is responsible for cleaning?

14. Do workers habitually clean their workstations without being told (sweep floors, wipe equipment, etc)?


4S - Standardize

15. Are standard procedures clear, documented, and actively used?

16. Was the 5S audit completed for this area last month?

17. Was the 5S audit completed for this area the month before last?

18. Are improvement memos/newspaper memos regularly being generated?

19. Were the improvement ideas from the last audit acted upon?

20. Are standards used uniformly across the area?

21. Are the first three S’s (Sort, Set Location, and Shine) being maintained?


5S - Sustain

22. Is everybody adequately trained in 5S?

23. Are procedures updated and regularly reviewed?

24. Are audit results and findings communicated adequately to everyone?


These are some examples of what a 5S checklist can look like, but as mentioned previously no two 5S checklists are alike, it all depends on what your company requirements are. If you would like to know how to improve your 5s audits at your organization, click here.