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How to use visual control at your facility

What is visual control and how can you use it within your manufacturing plant to find ways to improve the company? Everything that is done with visual control is focused on improvement and to help employees become better at their jobs. When you implement visual control you will end up using signals that help people to see where a product is through the production process. This allows for people to quickly identify what steps they need to take next and what they can do to help the machinery prepare for changeovers and other things. Like any process, visual control is one of the things that you want to turn to in order to increase efficiency but also to have better products for the customers.

Timeliness of the production line is important as is the delivery to the customers. When you use visual control people can see that you create products that are quality and are delivered on time to them. As you look into visual control you will end up using various steps and things that help you to understand timing. It also allows you to organize the company.

Have you ever seen a workshop that has outlines of tools so you know where they go after you use them? This is a visual control tool that is used. What makes this such an effective tool is not just the fact that you have a place to put everything but it helps to save time as people don't need to wander around to find the tools and things that they need to do their jobs. Having an organized shop floor is a great way to reduce stress but this is a great way to help boost productivity as people aren't wasting time.

When you use visual control you are showing the employees to take action. Give them the option to come up with an organized system for their area. Putting the control back in their hands is just one of the easiest ways to make them feel important and needed by the company. Helping people to become self-sufficient and to learn how to resolve their own problems is a great way to strengthen the entire organization.

Here are some things that you commonly see within manufacturing plants and other organizations when they use visual control:
- Direction of flow indicators
- Production status boards
- Indicator lights
- Shadow boards for tools
- Painted floor areas marked for good stock, scrap, trash
- Color coded pipes and wires

Visual displays are simple and it's one of the "languages" that is universal! This makes it such a great way to improve quality and timeliness. Everyone will see and understand what the lights or indicators mean and then they take action. This is often why we have lights and visual controls for safety issues. Think about police lights in your rearview mirror, you know automatically what to do when you see them! This is just one way in which visual control is used in an everyday setting.

A great benefit to using visual control is not only the quality improvements but also the way that it aids in preventing unnecessary waste. Waste can be defined as anything from the way in which employees need to wander around to find tools to the excess waste that you see from the production line and you end up recycling or throwing out the extra waste. It helps to expose these problems and abnormalities in the manufacturing line. If you want happier customers and happier employees, implementing visual control is an inexpensive and easy way to obtain these two goals!

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