CI Tools

What is Visual Control?

Road traffic safety is an example of visual controls

The ultimate goal of 5S is to create a visual workplace. Visual controls make problems visible, communicate status, and improve performance. They also guide people to stop or prevent abnormalities.

A key component of road traffic safety is the group of lane markings, traffic signs, and signals. Think about a street’s intersection. The traffic light and pedestrian crosswalk are visual controls. As a driver, if you are facing a red line, you know that your right of way has ended, and you stop. A pedestrian uses the pedestrian signals to know when it is safe to cross. In the workplace, you can use visual controls to warn when it is time to buy more office paper or to communicate that help is needed.

Everybody in the work area understands the visual control objectives and knows what to do with the information. They work because when looking at them, everybody understands the same thing and act the same way.

If you use a chart to show orders completed per hour, you should be able to know if there are delays by looking at it. What you see will tell you if there is a reason to hurry up or just relax and keep your pace. Another example is the red tags used in the Red Tag Campaign as part of 5S. These red labels indicate that something was out of place, and call your attention for action.

If you want to create visual controls remember the following:

  • Make the team part of the visual control design process.
  • It must be visible at a distance, choose wisely the font type, color, and size.
  • Avoid cluttered signs and charts, it has to be easy to understand.
  • Use color code and fewer words whenever is possible.
  • Visuals communicate a standard and actual performance.
  • Ensure that the entire team knows what it is, the objective and rules. Even when they participate in the design process, a meeting or training to share those details is important. This will ensure everybody understands the same thing and reacts the same way to the signals.

In future posts, I will talk more about examples. For now, look around and identify visual controls around. Think about how you can apply this tool in your business. Any ideas?

CI Tools

What is the Red Tag Campaign?

I am not talking about the inventory clearance sales, but this red label calls for attention as well. The red tag campaign I refer to is part of the 5S program.

During the first step, use red labels to identify what needs to be removed from the work area. Only items with tags are removed, which prevents needed items from being taken from the workplace.

The red tags contain information that will help further in the 5S steps to identify from where they came and what we can do with them. In general, they contain the date, tagged by, and location. In case of questions, you will know who you can ask.

All items removed from the workplace go to a temporary staging area called the Red tag area. This space should be labeled and the perimeter marked. A critical aspect of the red-tag area is the removal procedure. It includes how long the items can be there, who participate in the decision-making process, and the rules for removal options. Some options for removal are move to the right location, donation, employee sale, trash bin, and recycling.

You can have a permanent area designated for red-tag items. When people find items in their work area that does not belong, they can translate them there. In this case, the area has to be small to avoid clutter.

Part of the Sustain step is to include rules on how often this parking area has to be empty. 5S is part of their daily routine and they know what to do with non-needed items, and where they go. Organize a special Red Tag Campaign every six months or annually to promote and sustain 5S. A clean and organized work area is an efficient work area!