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Visual control a key component of production improvement

ompanies that implement lean manufacturing often use visual control in the form of heijunka boxes or the kanban method. Visual control is simply a visual way to help employees understand where things go, where to find things, and what to do with wastes. Visual control will make the processes easier because employees can focus on a specific color to identify a problem. Visual control quickly conveys a message to employees without having to hold a meeting.

Lean implementation focus on reducing wastes and improving production. Using visual controls as part of your lean manufacturing process will help your company maintain a certain level of consistency. Using visual controls, your employees can compare the products that have come off the assembly line to another one that is correct. This will help you make sure that all the products being shipped to your customers are the same.

A good example of visual control is silhouettes and cut-outs. Have you ever opened up a socket wrench set and noticed that every part of the wrench had a specific area where it belonged in the toolbox? Once you use the wrench and one of the screws you will instantly know which parts are missing. When you are looking for ways to introduce visual control, take a look at the complex processes that are commonly misunderstood. If you can replace words and numbers with colors, shapes, and lights, it is much easier for everyone to be on the same page. Visual control is very effective at communicating the correct message with just one glance.

Stop lights are a simple form of visual control. You can clearly understand that green means "go", yellow means "yield" and red means "stop". Visual control can help the entire production process run faster. When the production process is running smoothly, you can start focusing on eliminating wastes within the company. Using colors to test products can help you cut down on the amount of time it takes for each employee to sort through the products. For example, you can have two bins, one that is green and one that is red. When the employee compares the new products to the correct ones, they will simply dump the damaged or incorrect products in the red bin. The green bin is for the products that pass inspection. The employee will not need to tell other employees which products are correct; the colored bins will do this for them. This cuts down on miscommunication and wasted time.

Manufacturing companies often use visual control to organize the workplace. Using visual controls can help employees identify where certain materials and machines need to go. They will also understand if there is a problem if you use flashing lights to convey danger. You can start implementing visual control in smaller departments, then test it to see how well it works and move up to the larger departments.

Visual control gets rid of wasted effort from employees because everything is organized. There is no need to go on the hunt for certain tools or materials because they can glance over to see if the tool is already being used.

Encourage your employees to use visual control to organize their workstations. If they can arrange their workstation using visual control, it will be easier for them to find the tools they need and it can help them avoid accidents because they are stretching over machines to grab the tools they need.

Hold regular training meetings to make sure everyone at the facility understands visual control and how it works. Make sure the staff members understand the organization behind the visual control and give them a chance to offer their input.

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