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Visual Controls

Look at these two pictures.


The picture on the left was taken "before" any changes were made the one on the right was taken "after" the shop was re-organized.

Even though the area seemed organized and the rolls were all kept on racks, it was easy to select the incorrect roller and start to install it on the printing machine.  It was also possible to  install the wrong toothed gear on a roll and not notice until it was too late.   Before the change the employees at this company could and sometimes did install the wrong mix of roller and gear for a particular print job. This when discovered meant breaking down the machine to fix the error and of course it meant lost time and materials.

As part of a  Kaizen event TEiM helped the workers in the area implemented a  mistake proof color coded systems to make sure the right roller and gear combination was selected .  

Good Visual Controls are the foundation of a Lean organization, whether it be color coding of a machine or paperwork and files in an office. It al goes to eliminating the potential to make mistakes. Having good visual control also enables the supervisors and managers to detect if something is not right in an area which may cause delays to production. 

The mantra for good visual controls should be  “ A place for everything and everything in its place”  TEiM can help you establish top class mistake proof Visual controls at your location.

You can usually gauge any company's attitude towards quality by simply taking a 10 minutes tour of their facility and assessing their commitment to a workplace organization plan. To prove this point do what Teim calls  "The 30 second challenge." Here are the simple steps:

  1. Go to your workplace and get ready to start doing your job. 

  2. How much time does it take to find the first item you need?

  3. Did you find the first item in 30 seconds or less?

  4. Now try it with the next 2 or 3 items.

If you can't find what you need in 30 seconds or less, your are wasting valuable time throughout the day, week, month and year searching for parts or equipment. So, now its time to think about what it's really costing you to make your products, because while a person is searching for items, they cannot produce anything. You can calculate the impact of wasted time on your business. If your employees are wasting 30 minutes per day doing other activities (e.g. looking for tools, equipment, etc) other than doing their actual job, what is it costing your business?

Average work year has 250 days per year. 30 minutes (or 0.5 hours) per day     =     250 / 0.5     =     125 hours per year

If an employee is earning $15 per hour, the cost is:    125 hours x $15     =     $1875 per employee per year.

So, you can do this calculation for the total number of employees in your organization:

10 employees            =        $18,750 per year

50 employees            =        $93,750 per year

100 employees          =        $187,500 per year

As you can see from this example its really important to know what portion of the workday is taken up doing non-value added activities. If you don't know how much time is lost, its costing someone money and guess who pays for it in the finished product, your customers. Companies will spend thousands of dollars trying to track direct labor costs but still have no idea of how much time is wasted throughout the process.

Any company trying to implement lean will not succeed without creating a clean and orderly workplace. The motto for workplace organization is "A place for everything and everything in it's place." If it's not in its proper place, then someone has to take time away from their job to go find it and that's just simply waste.

To achieve a better level of workplace organization you will use two Lean techniques:

  1. 5S

  2. Visual controls

5S is a series of specific actions required to create a clean and organized work area.

  1. Sort                 -     remove what is not necessary.

  2. Straighten        -     create a place for everything.

  3. Shine              -     clean the workplace.

  4. Standardize      -     make it a repeatable practice.

  5. Sustain            -     make it a daily habit.

 Visual controls are used to give information or communicate visually:

  • Kanban             - when, what and where to replenish.

  • Picture location  - place a picture at a point to identify the part or equipment.

  • Location boxes   - place a specific item in the specific box.

  • Shadow board    - put the item back in the place designated for it.

  • Color coding      - ensures the item is returned to the same color location.

  • Load leveling     - produce only what is required to meet demand.

The two pictures show examples of:

  1. A shadow board with tools placed in a neat and orderly layout. It is a visual control for tool location.

  2. Painting a location box to show where specific items are to be placed. This is also creating a visual control.

Visual Controls create consistency and repeatability, which helps standardize a process. All employees know exactly what goes where and how it can be easily located.



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