CI 101

Are you sure you have visual controls? Do you know the difference between visual control and a display?

Often people confuse visual controls with visual displays. A visual control calls for action while a display exhibits information.  5S, the five steps for cleaning and organization provides the basis to build a visual workplace.  There are four different stages or types of visual management, display, calls for attention, organize behavior and defects prevention.  Only the last three are considered visual controls, they show the standard and the actual performance.

The basic stage of visual management display, it only exhibits or tells information.  Level 1 of this stage, gives people information that you want or need them to know.  For example, headcount, open positions, visitor schedules, and safety trends.  The second level shares standards at the site.  Work standards remind the employee of the right way to do the job, but they do not tell what to do if something is out of standard.  

The second stage, calls for attention, has levels 3 and 4.  In level 3, you start building standards into the workplace.  The difference is that now, a signal points out when something is out of standard.  At this step, you start using, for example, status boards with metrics posted each hour, heat sensor stickers, gauge labels, and oil level indicators.  

Level 3 sets the baseline for the next level where metrics are in real-time, and alarms or strobe lights go off when the actual performance is different than standard.  At level 4, the visual warns about abnormalities it speaks to you.   

The third stage, organize behavior, is level 5.  When something happens, it calls your attention and also guides your behavior.  In other words, it prevents defects from happening because you know what to do when you receive the warning.

The ultimate goal of every visual management system, prevent mistakes, is level 6.  At this stage, you and your team implement simple, low-cost devices that prevent problems from happening or stops the workflow when defects occur to prevent more.  Error-proof devices have shapes, guides, or sensors that prevent the person from inserting them in the wrong direction or shut down the device to avoid injuries.  

Many companies never moved from the first stage, and wrongfully think that they have visual controls.  To avoid that mistake, start with 5S and keep improving, one step at a time to reach the ultimate goal, mistake-proof controls.  In my next publication, I will show you examples of each stage of visual management.

CI Tools

What is visual management? How do you create visuals?

Visual management is a way to visually communicate accurate information, standards, and performance within the workplace to make it available at all times to those who needed.  The objective is to make out of normal situations visible to everybody, so that corrective actions can start immediately.   Visual controls communicate a standard and actual performance.

A good visual workplace speaks for itself; it is easy to understand the status of the system performance at a glance.  Effective visuals are simple, easy to see and read, everybody understand the same thing and act the same way.  Managers, supervisors and operators, know what to do with the information.  

Visual Design Process

  • The first step to create visual controls is 5S, the foundation of visual management.
  • The first level of visual control is put in place while working in the step 4, Standardization.
  • Visual control design is a team activity, have a group of them participating in the process.
  • Ask the following questions 
    • What do I need to know? What do I need to share? Where? When? Who? How? How many?
  • Provide specific, precise, and complete information (the answer to the above questions).
  • The answer to those questions needs to be obvious as people walk through the workplace.

Visuals format

  • Create a basic layout, each type of information, always goes in the same place.
  • It must be visible at a distance, choose wisely the background, font type, color, and size.  
  • Use graphics or pictures whenever it is possible, but do not overcrowd the visual.
  • Adopt a symbol to acknowledge when the team meets the goals.

Presentation

  • Use less words, if possibly create symbols instead of a lengthy text, they take less time to read.
  • To ensure it is easy to understand, use simple words, clear pictures, and charts.
  • Use color coding when possible, be consistent with the meaning of the colors across the site.

Location and Use

  • Install visuals at the point of use, where the information is needed.
  • Ensure that everybody knows what the visual is, the objective, and rules.

In summary, for visual management to be real and effective, everybody has to see the same, know the same information, understand the same, and act in the same way.  If these conditions are not present, then the visual is not effective.  In a visually managed workplace, anyone will know the who, what, where, when, why, and how of an area within 5 minutes.

CI 101

Is visual display and visual control the same thing?

A visual display share information at the point of need

Do you know the difference between visual control and visual display? A display tells information, and control prompts some action.

A visual display shares information or standards. It provides the right information, in the right format, at the point of need. Some examples are bin labels to identify different parts or materials, floor markings, safety signs, and defects displays. Work instructions and other types of job aids are also examples of visual display. Bulletin boards to share information like the safety record for the year, open job postings, and changes in policy are a very common visual display.

A visual control calls for action when something happens. The standards are part of the workplace, and a warning makes you notice that something abnormal happened. Sometimes, visual controls not only warn that something happened but also organizes behavior. When an operator pulls an Andon cord, the line stops sending a powerful signal warning of problems in the line. Everybody knows the warning means that the line stopped, and help is needed to fix a problem. The ultimate goal of a workplace is to have visual controls that prevent defects. Mistake proof controls use techniques that make it impossible to make mistakes.

Warning and call for action, organize behavior, and defect prevention are different levels of visual control. A visual display is the first step before you start building visual controls into the workplace. Many companies never moved from this stage, and wrongfully think that they have visual controls. To avoid that same mistake, keep improving one step at a time to reach the ultimate goal, to have mistake-proof controls.