n the last issue we examined 5S, which addressed work place organization. Next we want to examine another tool available to the Lean Practitioner, the concept of a "Visual Factory". If a Kaizen Team is conducting 5S in the Initial Application Area (IAA), then this is a good time to implement "Visual Factory".
So just what is this "Visual Factory" stuff?
Visual factory is an operational philosophy based on fast absorption of information in order to make effective decisions. It stands squarely on the principles of organize, standardize, and communicate. That is to say, "A picture is worth a thousand words".
Some of the common tools and techniques for "Visual Factory" are:
- Work cells
- Production control boards
- Shadow board for tools and accessories
- Color-coded bins for scrap, production parts, rework, etc.
- Horns, whistles, and lights
- Inventory control boards and cards
- Museum samples to identify satisfactory products and defects
Visual Factory concepts employ visual aids to purvey information in real time. For example, one should be able to walk into a production cell and tell immediately if production is ahead, behind, or on schedule to Takt time.
You will know that a "Visual Factory" has been achieved when anyone can walk into the work area and immediately be able to discern the current situation. That is to say, are there any abnormalities, is everything in its place, and are we on schedule.
Strive for perfect vision. Employ additional devices and techniques such as:
- Indication lights identifying equipment status
- Maintenance charts and records
- SPC charts
- Operating procedures
- Flow charts
- Process control boards
- Safety status boards
- Instructions that include photos
- Quality records
- Change over times and equipment utilization and performance records
- Safety instructions:
- Fire extinguisher
- Emergency evacuation routes
- Pinch points
- Safe work instructions
- Lock out tag out instructions
It is very important that the implementation team, working in the IAA, devote considerable time and seriousness to creating a "Visual Factory". This is truly one of the most important parts of creating a Lean Enterprise.