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How to use Visual Control for manufacturing process improvement

Manufacturers of every size and type are constantly looking for ways to improve their production process. Businesses that are seeking to increase production efficiency, may want to consider using visual control, as part of their Six Sigma or Lean manufacturing process. This has been found to easily and dramatically increase efficiency of the production process.

Visual control is the simple process of making things visual. It helps employees perform their jobs easier, because they can look at a visual sign to see what they need to do. Studies have shown that when things are visual, people tend to learn them faster and retain them longer. In addition, when things are visible, they tend to remain in our minds for longer periods of time. Having these visual reminders around the plant will provide employees with constant reminders, and allow them to make quick decisions when necessary.

There are several reasons to use visual control.Some of the most common include:

  • It provides clear instruction to employees without the need for verbal communication.

  • It can provide immediate feedback to consumers.

  • It quickly conveys information to everyone at the facility.

  • It will make the problems, abnormalities, or deviation standards, visible to everyone so corrective action will be taken ahead of time.

  • It will display the operating or progress status in an easy to see format.

Visual control does not have to be complicated. Something as simple as wet floor sign lets those in the area know they should take extra care. Flashing lights will emit a warning about a dangerous area, while hand washing signs promote good employee hygiene. The possibilities for visual control are nearly endless.

It is important for manufacturers to understand how to implement visual control. One of the main reasons to implement visual control is to expose some of the problems within your business. Visual control has been used to eliminate excess waste, low productivity, and product deviations. However, it should be stressed that before you take any steps toward implementation, you should make sure it corresponds with your existing process improvement strategy. Here are some tips on how to get started with the proper implementation of visual control:

  • The first step is to organize a program committee, and develop a budget.

  • Once the committee is organized they should review a list of workers compensation claims, and workplace accidents that can be controlled using visual control.

  • You should then publicly announce the start of the program to your company.

  • After focusing on the process to be changed, you will then provide training and education to employees.

  • Once the processes are developed, implement the visual control.

  • Consistently be evaluating the results of visual control. If the visual controls that are in place, are not working then it is time to take corrective actions.

You should keep in mind that the main purpose behind visual control is to organize the workplace, so that a group of employees can work together without problems, and a manager can easily notice whether or not things are going well. There are ways that you can implement visual control-
  • Clearly designate a location for the visual control item to be placed.

  • Indicate the quantity or the maximum amount of inventory

  • Provide documentation of the new visual control, so that employees have a reference of the needed changes.

  • Use colors to designate areas, as this a proven way to attract attention.

  • Use shapes, symbols, characters, numbers, or graphs, to identify products, or production areas.

  • Use lights and sounds to designate the visual control.

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