Why Hourly Production Display Boards are Important

5S Supply 60-Minute Board ExampleUsing Hourly Boards (a.k.a. 60-Minute Boards or Production Boards) are a great way to keep your team informed on whether production is on-target, ahead or behind. Waiting until the end of the shift to find out if you met the planned production for the day is a little too late to do anything about it. Real-time information would be best, but sometimes that is costly to setup or takes a lot of effort to perform.  Takt-time awareness is great for an operator so she knows if she is on pace. A different level of responsiveness is needed for management, if you were a supervisor you probably wouldn’t want to hear every minute that “We’re on-time.” A pitch increment or pack-out quantity may be better, but that too may not fit every situation especially outside of manufacturing. The type of display board we suggest is perfect for manufacturing production areas, office and support functions, and even healthcare. Use them anywhere you want to see if you are on target or not.

If end-of-shift or real-time aren’t the appropriate solution to communicate production levels, what is? The answer is Hourly Boards. Using a mechanism where on a consistent basis the actual units produced is compared to the planned amount is recorded; any countermeasures for errors can be incorporated closer to real-time. Having your team involved with creating the board is the first step. Ask them what they would like to see on the board. By including your team members not only do you get better ideas by having more input, you build buy-in with your team members because they were part of the solution. You can also discuss the reason or need for the boards – which it will help with understanding abnormal situations. Tell them the “why” before you work on the “How”.

Using the Hourly Board for its Intended Use – Communication

Start the day with a short start-up meeting. Mention any open issues from the day before, any changes to the upcoming schedule, changeovers, maintenance items, 5S, and any: quality, cost, delivery, and safety items. During the shift, communicate any issues that come up – especially any reasons that the target conditions weren’t met. Assign the appropriate person (hopefully someone closest to the process) to help investigate the root cause and coach them to propose a countermeasure. Have a quick end-of-shift meeting at the board to review the day’s work. Talk about what went well, what didn’t, opportunities for improvement, upcoming schedules, and so on.

Advantages of Hourly Display Boards

One of the advantages of using a manual display board (versus electronic – hey, don’t worry I like those too) is that a person has to take responsibility to write the actual hourly production number on the board. This is a tactile process – the person has to grab a dry-erase marker, uncap it and write the actual hourly production number on the board, now they own that number. To visually enhance this experience a green marker should be used when the production number is met or exceeded (along with a congratulatory note would be nice). A red marker should be used whenever the target or planned number is not achieved along with an explanation why and a proposed countermeasure. The target units and can be written in black and notes for the team can be in blue. These visual indicators will make it simple and easy for the people on the team to get a grasp of the situation quickly and without any guessing.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – Setting Up an Hourly Display Board

Check out 5S Supply’s exclusive Hourly Board Kit video below

Hourly Production Board from 5S Supply on Vimeo.

QuikBoards are perfect for Product and 5S Scheduling

QuikBoards are perfect for creating a customized solution for production scheduling or 5S activities. The Scheduling and 5S boards have optional pre-printed magnet sets. All the boards are magnetic and dry-erase for maximum usability.

“While working on countless production smoothing or 5S kaizens, I always had to develop a whiteboard from scratch to roll out the new production schedule or 5S assignments. It usually took several hours away from the improvement activity cutting tape strips and sticking labels on magnets. QuikBoards allow kaizen team members to focus their time working on process improvements and very quickly assemble a customized schedule/assignment board that matches their process requirements.” – Scott Morrison, Inventor, QuikBoards

Production Scheduling Boards – Versatile board can be used to evenly schedule 8-hour, 12-hour, 16-hour, and 24-hour time blocks over one, two, or three weeks. The 36″ x 48″ schedule board has room for posting 8-1/2″ x 11″ charts.

The Scheduling Boards come in three different sizes:

  • 24″ H x 18″ W
  • 36″ H x 24″ W
  • 48″ H x 36″ W

Schedule Board Magnet Sets – Magnets for posting 24-hour Standard and Military times, seven day weeks, changeover time blocks, and a variety of subjects (set-ups, raw materials, finished goods, etc.).

5S Activity Board – Board can be used to evenly schedule 5S assignments over shifts, days, and weeks. This is the way to help Sustain a 5S system!

5S Board: 24″ H x 18″ W

5S Board Magnet Sets – Magnets for posting shifts, days, weeks, and a variety of tasks (sort, set in order, shine, standardize, sustain, inspect, mop, etc.).

Stop by 5S Supply to see these and other great products for your Lean implementation.


Here’s a quick list of things related to 5S and Lean that you can easily do to celebrate Earth Day and make your workplace (and our planet) better.

  1. RTS-103_02_ThumbnailGo to your 5S Red Tag Holding Area and see if there is something there that can be recycled. Maybe there is something that you could re-purpose or use in your work area. This will save your organization money from having to buy a new item and you extended the life of an item you already have.
  2. Organize some consumable items in your work area. Determine the best location for them. Consider using Point-of-Use-Storage (or a Kanban System – like Kanban Indicator Bins); this will help reduce motionKBN-001_In_Rack_View and transportation waste. Determine how many you actually need and who replenishes  hem. This alone may help you reduce the unnecessary inventory you carry and reduce the waste of inventory or storage.
  3. Put a “Shine” on your workplace. Clean and inspect your work area – this not only will make your spot seem nicer and more pleasant to be in, it can also help improve the air quality, reduce allergens and germs.
  4. Create Standards for a task in your work area. Work with your team to determine the best way to get a task done and then standardize it. This will help you be more efficient and effective plus everyone will do it the same way so it makes it more consistent and easier to train new people.
  5. RTS-106_02_ThumbnailKeep 5S going by sustaining your efforts. Consider using our exclusive 5S Sustain Campaign Board. You can assign 5S related tasks to team members each week to keep 5S forefront in their minds while help to continuously improve your work space.

Remember to Reduce-Reuse-Recycle! 5S and Lean are a great way to help.

As part of yokoten (Japanese for sharing best practices) 5S Supply sponsored the “One Good Idea” Photo Challenge along with help from GBMP and the Visual Workplace. Participants were encouraged to share before and after photos of an area they improved using 5S and Visual Lean Principles.

The photo challenge allowed Lean practitioners to share their improvement ideas so that others may learn from them.

The criterion for selection was based on:

  1. Originality
  2. A focus on lean and visual principles
  3. Impact to your work-space or organization

Entrants were encourage to mention the issue or problem that was trying to be solved, the solution that was implemented, benefits and who helped create the solution.

The winners selected were:

First Place - AfterFirst Place – $500 gift certificate for merchandise from 5S Supply

Frank Gorena, Corporate Director of Operational Excellence BE Aerospace

Final Staging Station – Consumables


Second Place - AfterSecond Place – two DVDs from GBMP

Tony Recchia, Senior Manufacturing Engineer Ward Leonard Electric Company Inc

Contact Production Cell


Third Place - AfterThird Place – a Color Standards Template from the Visual Workplace

Bonnie Hauge, President CAS Adaptive Solutions

Professional Aircraft Accessories – Accessories Shop

5S Supply would like to thank the distinguished panel of judges Pat Wardwell, LGC, COO, GBMP, Rhonda Kovera, CEO, Visual Workplace, Inc. and Chris Abrey, LBC Accurate Perforating for their time and effort in reviewing and scoring the entries.

Stay tuned because we will have a webinar with the winners explaining their improvements!

This idea came from Katie as we were trying to organize files in our office. We had a lot of client files that date back ten years or so. They were taking up valuable real estate in the office (a nice three drawer lateral file cabinet that was full and that we could use for something more important). Because of our growth and moves over the years (in additional to reorganizing files once in a while) we had moved these same files at least five times. The files were stored in a very common method – alphabetical order. This is, of course, to make them easier to find when we need to look something up. I mentioned to Katie that I read somewhere that 95 percent of the items put in a file cabinet are never looked at again. From “The 5 Pillars of the Visual Workplace” by Hiroyuki Hirano, Figure 5-4 Document Usability Trend (Source: NAREMCO) shows that documents that are six months old may have a ten percent use frequency and at one year they would have a one percent use frequency. So this got us thinking…

Katie fixing the files.

Katie fixing the files.

The files would continue to grow in number. As we add more files we would either have to reorganize the files periodically or have extra unused space to accommodate more files – neither of these alternatives is desirable. I mentioned to her that of my files from just a year ago (I only probably had to pull three of them out to look at). So this is where Katie had her breakthrough moment – why don’t we just organize the files by year and then alphabetically?  More than likely I would be able to guess what year that work was done so all I would have to do is to go to that year’s box and look alphabetically for the file. So what if I got the year wrong? No big deal, just try one of the other boxes. It would only take a few minutes to find the file and this would not surpass the savings in filing time, storage costs and general ease of use. Now many of you may already be using this type of filing system; that’s not the breakthrough. The important part to me was that we took the time to think through a problem, suggest multiple solutions, decide on which target condition to experiment with and implement it.

Now I know this method my not work for everyone and is definitely based on the number of files you have to maintain, but for us this will be a great way to store files and retrieve them when needed while reducing waste. By the way, we were able to get rid of a lot of unneeded items by Sorting through the files.

Way to go Katie, keep up the Lean thinking!

Check back with me in a few months and we’ll see how our experiment is going.

Great Customer Service

November 19, 2012

Here’s a story about how a company with a reputation for great customer service ‘tripped in their shoes’ but recovered magnanimously. While planning for the recent FABTECH conference in Las Vegas I thought it would be a great opportunity to visit Zappos — the online retailer with a great reputation for customer service (www.zappos.com). They have a simple system on their website to sign up for a tour. You’ll receive confirmation of your preferred day and time. They also send a fun video of employees telling you that they look forward to your visit. On top of all that, they offer a free shuttle service to their office. As customer service goes, that is top notch.

Here’s the hiccup – the shuttle didn’t show up! Ten minutes before the arranged pick-up time we joked about how funny it would be if the shuttle was late. Not funny. So we jumped in a cab and hurried to their offices. We were a little late and I wasn’t in the best mood at this point. We got checked in with our name badges and escorted into a room where they showed a video of the history of Zappos. From there our energetic host Dani led us around the facility to see some of the different departments.

Tape lines on the floor in an office

Tape lines on the floor in an office.

Being a student of Lean, the first thing that struck me was how there didn’t seem to be a trace of 5S; except for lines on the floor (I never thought I would ever see that in an office – it’s to make sure that employees keep their chairs from blocking the aisles). Creativity abounds and people are encouraged to decorate their work spaces with their own appeal. I didn’t get a chance to ask if people were able to find what they need in a timely fashion, but obviously this seems to work for them. I’m not sure I would personally feel comfortable in an environment like this, but they seem to be thriving with it.

Other interesting things included:

  • Monkey Row - Tony Hsieh

    Monkey Row

    Tony Hsieh’s (the president) cubicle is right in the middle of everyone else’s, no corner office; more in the middle of gemba. That area is also lovingly known as “monkey row” (see photo on right)

  • There is a minimal use of walls; most of the work areas are open. When employees (a.k.a. Zapponians) need some quiet for a place to meet they have breakout rooms. These rooms have different themes and seem to be very fun.
  • There are monitors along the walls that keep you updated with company business and other important information like the joke-of-the day and pictures of Zapponian’s pets.
  • To help keep the Zapponians happy there are free food and drinks. Although the Red Bull has a nominal charge that is donated to charity.
  • Fun is highly encouraged and practiced.
  • Every employee (a.k.a. Zappoians) was gracious even when we were in their way and they needed to get around us.

Zappos’ shuttle

So now the recovery, they gave Jennifer a really nice Zappos backpack and offered us a free ride in their shuttle to the airport which we gladly accepted. Thank you Zappos and Brittany our driver!

“We asked ourselves what we wanted this company to stand for. We didn’t want to just sell shoes. I wasn’t even into shoes – but I was passionate about customer service.” – Tony Hsieh

From http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/t/tony_hsieh.html#g9x90pmBxqkKeEbC.99

As an invited guest and speaker at a company’s annual 5S Benchmarking Summit I was impressed with a fun game they played with some of their Continuous Improvement (CI) Team members – “Good, No Good or Mixed.” The way the game they played the game was contestants were shown a picture taken from their own workplaces and asked “Is this visual good, no good, or mixed?” They could apply their own criteria, but basically – could they tell what was going on or what the message was supposed to be in a very short period of time (whoever raised their hand first got to answer first)? The scoring was 1 point if they got the “good, no good, mixed” answer correct and a bonus point for getting the reason “why” correct. Now since this was a contest, the competition was fierce (I love Americans and our competitive nature).

What I liked about this game was that it taught me to look at workplace visual controls in a very critical manner. How effective are your visuals? Does it make sense to others? One of my favorite parts was when a visual popped-up that was created by one of the CI Team Leaders; he very vigorously defended his visual as he had to listen to the other CI people say how it was lacking and what could be improved. Remember, no matter how good you think a visual is you have to test it to make sure that it is getting the right message across.

Try answering these questions with your visuals:

  • Does you visual make sense to the people that need to see it? Ask them.
  • Is it labeled?
  • Can people recognize the message is a short period of time? Versus having to have to have training to understand what the visual is supposed to convey.
  • Can we make this better?

Try this game at your company and “see” what happens!