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Using visual control for process improvement

cautiontape41824589.jpgCompanies that are seeking to increase production efficiency may want to consider using visual control as part of their Six Sigma or lean manufacturing process. Visual control helps employees perform their jobs easier because they can look at a visual sign to see what they need to do. Visual control does exactly what it states, it makes things visual. 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, allowing them to make quick decisions when necessary.

Why use visual control?
There are several reasons to use visual control some of the most common include:

  • Provide clear instruction to employees without verbal communication

  • Provide immediate feedback to consumers

  • Convey information to everyone at the facility

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

  • Display the operating or progress status in an easy to see format

If you are confused about visual control, think about a wet floor in a grocery store. How do you know the floor is wet? Usually there is visual control sign placed in the wet area telling all the patrons to be careful. This is a simple way to implement visual control.

Another example of visual control is when you are driving and you see flashing lights, immediately you know that you need to pull over to let the emergency vehicle pass or to speak with a law enforcement officer about your driving.

How to implement Visual Control
One of the main reasons to implement visual control is to expose some of the problems within your company. Visual control has been used to eliminate excess waste, unevenness, and product deviations.

Implementing visual control is pretty easy. Before you take any steps toward implementation, make sure it corresponds with your existing process improvement strategy. Here are some tips on how you can get started with the proper implementation of visual control:

  • Organize a program committee and develop and budget.

  • Get a list of workers compensation claims and workplace accidents that can be controlled using visual control.

  • Publicly announce the start of the program to your company.

  • Provide training and education to employees.

  • Select a day and have everybody apply visual control in his/her own working area.

  • Evaluate the results of visual control

  • Self-Examination and take corrective actions.

Keep in mind that the main purpose behind visual control is to organize the workplace so that a group of people can work together without problems and a manager can easily notice whether or not things are going well.

Here are some things you can use to implement visual control

  • Designate a location for the visual control item to be placed.

  • Indicate the quantity or the maximum amount of inventory

  • Provide a document form that tells employees the items so they can distinguish them from other items.

  • Use colors to designate areas.

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

  • Try using lights and sounds to designate the visual control.

If you are successful with the planning and implementation of visual control, you will see a decrease in workplace accidents and product defects. When you are in the planning phase, make sure you spend time finding a way to increase production efficiency. Visual control is great for manufacturing firms since they tend to work in large buildings and they deal with loud noises so visual control really is the only way to organize the company.

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