Recommendations and Suggestions for 5-S Auditing

Larry Rubrich

The fifth component of 5-S, Sustain, is all about developing the discipline to use and maintain the 5-S system on a daily basis everywhere within the organization. Sustain means understanding how 5-S eliminates organizational waste and then making the first four S’s a habit and part of the company’s culture. Sustain, for most organizations (even after the 5-S training and 5-S kaizen events), means 5-S audits.   

What follows are some recommendations and suggestions on 5-S auditing.

  • Audit scores range from 0.0 to 5.0. We use scores in tenths. More on this below.

  • First, understand that audits, like third-party inspection, are wasteful activities. Like product or service quality, 5-S is an activity that we and the customer expect to pay one person to do it right the first time. Audits do serve the short-term purpose of both the reinforcement of the new process we are implementing (necessary if your organizations have had many ”programs of the month”) and advanced 5-S training activities (How do we achieve a score of a “5.0” on an audit of our work area?).

  • The audit team should consist of both factory and office associates, an hourly and salary mix. General guidelines are four to six auditors (not including the lean facilitator, per 250-person organization). The audit team should do practice audits to get everyone on the same page and develop a baseline. Also, consider how government regulations can set baseline scores. For example, if your organization produces food or medical products, meeting the FDA workplace requirements might mean that the minimum 5-S score for the first four S’s is a 3.0. Scores less than 3.0 might mean the FDA requirements are not being met.  

  • In the beginning, audits should occur at least every two weeks. Remember, it is both process reinforcement and a learning experience. As the average audit score climbs, the audit time span can be increased. The organization should determine what the operational criteria will be for eliminating audits.     

  • 5-S job instructions (the fourth S) and audit areas should be established by natural work groups and teams in both manufacturing and the office.    

  • It is suggested that 5-S office guidelines be developed for each organization. Office areas, unlike manufacturing areas, can be categorized into basically one group. The organization should create common 5-S job instructions (part of the fourth S) that define the organization’s office 5-S expectations. Some examples are shown below.

  • A typical 5-S scoring guideline sheet is shown below for the first three S’s (Electronic copies of all 5-S guidelines, scoring, and grading charts are available upon request at kelly@wcmfg.com).

  • It should be noted that there are special 5-S audit circumstances for safety violations. First, the “S” that the safety violation is covered by gets a score of “zero.” Typically, these are second S violations. The audit team must immediately notify the responsible supervisor and the safety violation must be corrected immediately. The audit must confirm the correction (the score does not change after correction).    

  • A typical 5-S grading sheet is shown below. Note that as important as the score is, comments on what needs to improved upon to achieve a score of 5.0 also must be included.

  • In the beginning, we believe audit scores should be posted (high to low) in a very visible area of the organization so everyone can see how the organization is doing. The high scores and the 5-S activities, in general, should be one topic in the organization’s monthly “all hands” meeting.

  • Over time, the business will develop its own 5-S expertise when new 5-S safety, organizing methods, clean-up techniques and other 5-S methods are established. Audit procedures and scoring should be adjusted to these developments, thus raising the bar to the new baseline.

One of the required measures for the success of your audits and 5-S implementation in general includes never having to clean up in advance of customer or other special company visitors. Always being “tour” or “visit” ready is an important 5-S measure.

About the author:
Larry Rubrich is the president of WCM Associates LLC. For more information, visit www.wcmfg.com or call 260-637-8064.

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About the Author

Larry Rubrich is the president of WCM Associates LLC. For more information, visit www.wcmfg.com or call 260-637-8064.