This is the final installment of five tips to help select the correct tool board.

#5 Labeling and Color-coding

This is how your tool board becomes a waste killing machine. This is probably my favorite part of making an effective and efficient tool board that associates will actually use and put tools back. As part of 5S workplace organization, the second “S” is “set-in-Order. The saying for this is “A place for everything and everything in its place!” This ensures that you have the right tool when you want it, where you want it. There is no time wasted looking for the right tool.

15-minutes_Time_Wasted_Searching_for_ToolsAccording to a recent poll, 57% of respondents stated that 15 minutes or more were lost looking for tools. Now, that’s pure waste.

Organize your tools, but take it one step further – label and color-code them. These are low cost solutions versus the waste of searching or replacing lost tools. As part of the fourth “S” in 5S, “standardize” your system. By using tool shadows and labels everyone will know where the proper tool is and more importantly where it goes. When the tool is returned to the board any one will know the correct spot to put it back. Another tip is to use Tool Tracer™ Tool Shadows with the exclusive Tool ID Band™ (patent pending). This way if you have multiple tool boards, you can color-code the board according to work area or process. So if a “blue” tool is in a “red” area it is easily seen and corrected.

Tool_Tracer_Shipping_StationDon’t forget to label your board. Make the labels a nice contrasting color like black & white, black & yellow, blue & white and so on. Also, make sure the labels and printing are large enough to see from a distance. The header for the tool board should be about 1-1//2” – 2-1/2” high. The labels for the actual tools should be a minimum of 12pt font, 18pt is better. Find what works for your area.

A well labeled board with the proper tool shadows will make your workplace more product, organized and reduce stress!

Don’t forget to check out 5S Supply for tool boards and Tool Tracer™ Tool Shadows.

This is the fourth tip in a series of five to help select the correct tool board. Tip #4 Hooks

Believe it or not the hooks you select make a big difference. There are a variety of sizes and styles of hooks out there. Select the ones that fit your tools the best. Also consider other accessories like document holders, bins or shelves. Document holders can have work instructions, One-point Lessons, schedules and other notices. Bins and shelves can hold parts and other items. These accessories make it convenient to have these items at point of use.Tool_Board_Hooks_SS

An important feature of hooks is to make sure you get the kind that screw into or lock into the board. Some hook types just hang there. These are more problematic when come off the board asyou grab the tool. Another tip is considering having the tool horizontal (across two or more hooks) instead of just hanging up and down.

Next Tip #5 Labeling and Color-coding

This is the third tip in a series of five to help select the correct tool board.

#3 Tool Board Size

Mobile_Tool_WorksHaving the right size board at point-of-use is critical to making a tool board that employees will actually use. In Tip #1 Tool Board Type, I mentioned the types of boards (wood, plastic or steel) along with typical sizes. Wood and plastic boards are the easiest to cut to the size you need. Steel boards are usually not cut to size because of their construction. The easiest piece of advice is to not go too small or go too big. You might be tempted to go small because of cost. Consider the cost of having to get another board if you are wrong. On the other hand, many people think “I’ll get the biggest one they make” which too could be a mistake. Getting a board that is way larger than your needs and growing into it can cause undue confusion, clutter and additional waste. Stick the size you need, where you need it. Consider going mobile to make it easier to have it at point-of-use or to clean (“shine” – the third “S” in 5S) around it.

Check out one of our more popular blog post: “Finally! A Tool Shadow Board that Works

Coming up next, Tip #4 Hooks

This is the second tip in a series of five to help select the correct tool board.

#2 Location

Where you decide to put your tool board can have a big impact on whether it is used correctly or not. Consider putting it at point-of-use, as close to where the work is being performed as possible – even within arm’s reach. If the tool board is located across the room or some distance away from where the associates use it then there is a low probability that they will retrieve the correct tool needed and put it back when they are done with it.


Think about which tools are used most often and have those at ready access. Tools used less often can be stored in remote access. Basically, if you use it every day have it within reach. If you use it less often consider another location. Also, consider proper ergonomics. Make sure the employees do not have to reach too far or in an uncomfortable way to get the needed tool.

We will cover #3 “Size” next time.

To see Tip #1>> Select the Board Type

You might ask yourself “What’s there to know about tool boards?” Having the right tool board that is useful is the key to having the right place to hang your tools. In this series, I will give you five tips for choosing the proper tool board. The first thing to do is to determine if a tool board is really needed. If you can get away with a single tool at a location, just use that. If the tools have to be covered or protected, consider a tool drawer or cabinet. Making a large tool board just so that things look nice might just be a waste. The essential element of a useful tool board is that people use it and put the tools back when they are done.

The five sections in this series are:

  1. Select the Tool Board Type
  2. Location
  3. Size
  4. Hooks
  5. Labeling and Color-coding

Let’s dive in to the first tip.

Tool Board Selection Tip # 1 Select the Tool Board Type

There are three main types of tool board materials: 1) wood, 2) plastic, and 3) steel. Each has its pros and cons.ToolBoardTypes


Wood pegboard are those familiar ones you see at the home building centers. These are usually sold in sheets (2’ x 2’ or 2’ x 4’) and can easily be cut to size on a table saw or with a circular saw. Mostly they come in two colors: white or brown. These tool boards have a lower load rating than plastic or steel, but are also cheaper. Wood pegboards are not resistant to oil, grease or other liquids so they aren’t used in a food grade or clean room environment. If you need something for occasional or light-duty use, this could be your answer.


Plastic pegboards offer the flexibility of the wood tool boards that they can be cut to any size. The load rating is higher than the wood boards and they are resistant to many liquids. These are great for medium-duty situations.


Steel tool board have the highest load ratings and with that they also cost more. The boards cannot be cut to size because of the box construction. The steel boards are usually powered coated and resistant to oil, grease and other liquids. You can also find stainless steel boards and hooks that are great for food grade or clean room applications. If your tools are heavy or if you have a rough environment, steel tools boards are the way to go.

I will cover theses other tips in the upcoming posts.

  • #2 Location
  • #3 Size
  • #4 Hooks
  • #5 Labeling and Color-coding

Is Floor Marking Worth it?

September 9, 2015

Does floor marking (floor tape and symbols) improve your productivity and safety?

Floor_Marking_Poll_ResultsIn our recent polling question, an overwhelming response of 90% agreed that floor marking improved efficiency and safety.

What company wouldn’t benefit from increased productivity and a reduction in workplace injuries?

How does floor marking help improve productivity?

Here are some examples:

  • Marking where completed jobs go reduces search time to quickly move the product to the next operation. Using color-coding such as green for “good to go”, or red for “QC Hold” also helps create a visual system that can be recognized in an instant.
  • Marking where the next job goes helps the operator focus on value-added activities and not have to search or guess what to work on next. Having a specific spot and marking the next job makes it super-simple for the operator to know what to work on next. Once again, color-coding can help – using blue can indicate “next job”.
  • Mark specific locations for Raw Materials and Finished Goods. How and where you layout materials can save hundreds of hours of search time per year. Using yellow corner markers along with ovals to label locations will speed up identification of materials in a warehouse or shipping-receiving area.
  • Create a Pull System and Kanban. When the spot is empty, fill it up. When the marked location is full, stop. This is a simple, visual Kanban system that works well for processes that are next to each other.
  • 5S the work area – “A place for everything and everything in its place!” Visually marking where items go saves time and money because you’ll have the right item, at the right location, in the right quantity.
  • Other color-coding examples can be used like white to mark off work benches or equipment.

How does floor marking improve safety?

  • By marking safe areas to walk versus forklift traffic areas. Most companies use yellow to signify walkways. Add in footprint symbols to ensure that employees and visitors know quickly where the designated walkways are.
  • Mark off fire extinguishers, electrical panels and eye wash stations. This can be accomplished with red border kits. The red helps signify safety. By marking off these areas, it helps keep them clear and readily identifiable.
  • Mark-off door swing areas or other parts of moving equipment. Use dashed lines or dots to help visually identify these areas.

To finish the poll results – seven percent of the respondents had no opinion and three percent said it didn’t help or made it worse. Wonder what happened there?

If you have questions about floor marking, please give us a call at 888-4 Lean 5S (888-453-2657).

Special bonus – Super September Sale! 25% off our BesTape and 5S Symbols.


Here is en excerpt and link to a recent column in SME’ Manufacturing Engineering magazine, SME Speaks column “Lean Today and Tomorrow”

“As I transition from my position as chair of SME’s Lean Certification Oversight and Appeals Committee, I have had the chance to reflect on where we have been and where we are going in the lean, operational excellence or continuous improvement world. The title of this SME Speaks is a takeoff on Henry Ford’s 1926 classic book Today and Tomorrow, and will focus on where lean and certification are today and my prediction of where they will be tomorrow…”

To read the entire story, click here>> SME Speaks





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