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.