Monday Morning Message on Lean – Visual Workplace – October 4, 2010

October 4, 2010

“It’s a visual world and people respond to visuals.” – Joe Sacco

I was presenting at SME’s “Making Lean Work for the Job Shop” last week and was fortunate enough to be able to take a tour of a local facility pursuing Lean. I was amazed at the progress they have made in their five year journey, but one of the things that stood out in my mind was the great application of visuals in the workplace. Unfortunately, no cameras were allowed on the tour so I can’t show you any specifics.

One of the very first things our tour guide mentioned was how they used to have a grid up in the ceiling for electrical, lighting, etc. This was close to the top of the benches and gave a feeling of being cramped or closed in. One of the first things they did was to remove the clutter (Sort) of the grid and raise the lighting back to the ceiling height. In doing so, they were able to choose new lighting that improved the overall brightness and reduced the electrical bill. This also allowed them to make any type of changes on the shop floor that they needed.

They also had very good visuals tied in with their Leader Standard Work. They had display boards in each area where the teams would hold the daily stand-up meetings and where management would be able to see the current status of the workplace. Of course they had boards with the standard Quality, Cost and Delivery measures plus other specific measures that were deemed necessary for good communication.

To keep track of throughput, they had the typical 60-minute board at each cell. This allowed the value-adders to write down where they were at and if needed, reasons why they were behind. I liked that I saw that the workers were behind in a one-hour segment and they wrote down that they were trying out a new testing procedure. This made it very clear why they were behind for that time span.

Don’t under-estimate the power of visuals in the workplace. Most visuals are low-cost solutions versus lack of information. Spend the time to put up meaningful visuals in your workplace, they payoff will be tremendous.

Visual Workplace Summit

One way to learn more about visuals is to attend the first annual Visual Workplace Summit being held October 26-28, 2010 in Salt Lake City, Utah. There are some top notch keynote speakers, workshops and plenty of breakout sessions that feature real-world examples. I encourage you to check it out.

If you have great examples of the visual workplace and would like to share them, please send them to me. Thanks – Tony

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