What do you have in your plant to instantly identify product flow, operations standards, schedules, or problems?
The answer, of course, is visual controls. With effective visual controls problems get solved sooner, success builds on success, and you instill pride in your workers for hitting goals or even for seeing the amount of work that they’ve done.
EMC members from Windsor, Essex, Chatham, and Kent gathered at CenterLine in Windsor for a roundtable discussion on visual controls. Centerline talked about their new initiatives in huddle boards and other members spoke about (among other things) their systems for identifying raw materials, keeping track of test gauges, displays that allowed their workers to see where their parts fit into the larger whole, press schedules, and, of course, KPI boards.
Members shared some tips for implementing visual controls. We were advised to start with cheap mockups (if possible) and iterate until a working design was established. Getting team member input into the design was key. With respect to implementing visual controls, training and mentoring were very important, as was explaining the purpose of the visual control. To help with sustaining the visual control, the proper people always had to use it: the workers themselves, other personnel affected by the control, and, most importantly, managers.
Our members also shared some challenges with their visual controls. It often wasn’t as easy to get it right as they thought it would be. One pitfall in that area is making a visual control to too complicated. It’s important that the visual controls be indicators not solution providers. Another difficult area was converting the information from the visual control to long-term tracking and improvement. Some members struggled to show their workers the connection between shop floor indicators and corporate goals.
Especially with a visual control, a picture is worth 1000 words. To get the full depth of discussions that happen at our SIG events, sign up and attend one yourself!
Many thanks to our host, CenterLine, for sharing their experience, offering the use of their training facilities, and allowing us to tour their plant.