How to Enhance Your Production Efficiency with a Kamishibai Board

Do you use a Kamishibai board in your workplace? This unique tool, first developed in Japan, can be used to improve efficiency and productivity. For production and manufacturing teams, this visual tool can be an invaluable asset. Here's everything you need to know about using a Kamishibai board in your workplace.
kamishibai board

In business, as in life, communication is critical. Manufacturers and production teams need to be able to communicate efficiently in order to maintain high levels of output – with profit margins relying on timely and accurate delivery of products to customers.

Of all the methods to enhance communication, few techniques beat visual aids such as the Kamishibai board.

A Kamishibai board is a Japanese-style storyboard used to help groups of workers visualize and understand tasks that need to be completed. The boards typically feature numbered steps that must be followed in order, helping to ensure that everyone is on the same page (literally).

Introduced via Toyota’s famed manufacturing process, the Kamishibai board has been adopted by companies across a range of industries as a way to improve communication and coordination among employees.

Whether you operate in a small workshop or a large factory, using a Kamishibai board can help to improve your production efficiency in several ways. Read on to learn how this simple tool can make a big impact on your business.

The History of the Kamishibai Board

 

The Kamishibai board was first introduced in the 1930s to communicate within Toyota’s automobile manufacturing plants. The system was created by Taiichi Ohno, one of the company’s early engineers and the father of the Toyota Production System.

Ohno was looking for a way to improve communication between workers and supervisors and provide workers with a clear understanding of their tasks. He borrowed the idea for the Kamishibai board from a Japanese tradition in which storytellers would use illustrated boards to tell children’s stories.

Also known as “paper drama” or “picture story show,” the Kamishibai board proved to be an effective tool for Toyota’s manufacturing process. The system was later adopted by other Japanese companies and eventually spread to businesses around the world. It’s still in use more than 80 years after its introduction.

How the Kamishibai Board Works

 

A Kamishibai board typically consists of a series of numbered panels that can be easily rearranged. The purpose is simple: provide an at-a-glance overview of the steps required to complete a task.

This makes it easy for workers to see what needs to be done and in what order. The numbered steps also help to ensure that everyone is on the same page – literally. This can save time and frustration by reducing the need for verbal communication and clarification.

The board is designed using kamishibai cards – also referred to as “T-cards” – to provide a flexible and reusable system. The cards can be moved around as needed, making it easy to update the board as new information arises.

Each card has two sides – one that identifies a task or process as being complete (green) and one that indicates it is incomplete or still in progress (red). This allows supervisors to quickly see which tasks have been completed and which ones still need attention.

As an auditing tool, the Kamishibai board is hard to beat.

Why Use a Kamishibai Board?

While a Kamishibai board offers unique benefits to production and manufacturing teams (which we’ll address later), the system can be used in a variety of settings. In fact, any business or organization that relies on team collaboration can benefit from using this type of board.

Here are just a few examples:

-Project management: A Kamishibai board can be used to track the progress of a project, ensure that deadlines are met, and identify any potential bottlenecks.

-Quality control: By highlighting areas that need improvement, a Kamishibai board can help quality control teams to identify and address issues more quickly and effectively.

-Warehouse operations: A Kamishibai board can be used to track inventory levels, order picking processes, and shipping schedules.

The Benefits of Using a Kamishibai Board

While the Kamishibai board can appear simplistic in its form and function, its within that simplicity that lies its true power. This humble tool can offer a number of benefits to businesses and organizations, including:

1. Improve Communication and Coordination

One of the most significant benefits of using a Kamishibai board is that it can help to improve communication and coordination between team members. By providing a clear and concise overview of tasks, the board can help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and understands what needs to be done.

2. Increase Efficiency and Productivity

Another significant benefit of the Kamishibai board is that it can help to increase efficiency and productivity. The numbered steps make it easy for workers to see what needs to be done and in what order, which can save time and frustration by reducing the need for verbal communication and clarification.

3. Enhance Quality Control

The Kamishibai board can enhance quality control efforts where products are assembled or manufactured. The two-sided cards (green for complete, red for incomplete) make it easy to see which tasks have been completed and which ones still need attention. This can help to identify and address issues more quickly and effectively.

4. Reduce Costs

Going back to the simplicity aspect, the fact that the Kamishibai board is a flexible and reusable system can help to reduce costs. The cards can be moved around as needed, making it easy to update the board as new information arises. There’s no need to purchase new boards or cards every time something changes – just rearrange the existing ones!

Production and Manufacturing Use Cases for a Kamishibai Board

While a Kamishibai board can be used in a variety of settings, it’s particularly well-suited for production and manufacturing environments. Here are just a few examples of how this tool can be used to enhance efficiency and productivity in these types of settings:

1. Tracking Production Schedules

On production floors, supervisors and managers can use a Kamishibai board to track the progress of each task and ensure that deadlines are met. This can help to prevent disruptions in the production process and ensure that products are shipped on time.

For instance, if supervisors take part in consistent “Gemba walks” (a Japanese quality control technique that involves walking the production floor to observe workers and identify issues), they can use the Kamishibai board to track the progress of each task. This information can then be used to make necessary adjustments to the production schedule.

The Kamishibai board can also be used to track the status of individual orders. This information can be shared with customers to provide accurate updates on their orders’ progress.

2. Enhance Audit Processes

In quality control and auditing settings, the Kamishibai board can track each audit’s progress and ensure that all tasks are completed. This can help to reduce disruptions in the production process and ensure that products meet quality standards.

For instance, if an auditor is conducting a series of audits on different parts of the production process, they can use the Kamishibai board to track their progress. This information can then be shared with supervisors to ensure that all tasks are completed and that any necessary corrective actions are taken.

The board can be used for a variety of auditing purposes across different time intervals, allowing for greater flexibility and efficiency.

3. Manage Maintenance Activities

The Kamishibai board can also be used to track and manage maintenance activities. This can help to ensure that all equipment is adequately maintained and that any necessary repairs are made in a timely manner.

For instance, if a maintenance worker inspects and repairs production equipment, they can use the Kamishibai board to track their progress. This information can then be shared with supervisors to ensure that all tasks are completed and that any necessary corrective actions are taken.

The board can also be used to track the status of individual maintenance tasks, making it easy to see which tasks have been completed and which ones still need attention. This can help to identify and address issues more quickly and effectively.

4. Plan and Track Projects

One of the most versatile applications for the Kamishibai board is in project management. This tool can be used to track the progress of each task and ensure that deadlines are met.

For instance, if a project manager is responsible for overseeing a production line’s upgrade, they can use the Kamishibai board to track the progress of each task. This information can then be shared with supervisors to ensure that all tasks are completed and that any necessary corrective actions are taken.

The board can also be used for specific machines or processes that are being upgraded. This information can help to identify and address issues more quickly and effectively.

5. Implementing Lean Manufacturing Principles

The Lean Manufacturing philosophy is based on the idea of eliminating waste in all forms in order to increase efficiency and productivity. The Kamishibai board can be used as a tool to help implement Lean Manufacturing principles.

For instance, if a company is working to implement Lean Manufacturing principles, it can use the Kamishibai board to track the progress of each task. This information can then be shared with supervisors to ensure that all tasks are completed and that any necessary corrective actions are taken.

The board can also be used to track the status of individual orders. This information can be shared with customers to provide accurate updates on their orders’ progress.

Tips for Getting Started with a Kamishibai Board

While the effectiveness of the Kamishibai board has been proven time and again, getting started with this tool can be daunting for some. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

1. Define Your Purpose

Before you can start using a Kamishibai board, you need to define your purpose for using the tool. What do you hope to achieve by using the Kamishibai board?

Return to the use cases listed above and decide which one best applies to your needs. Once you’ve decided on a use case, you can start planning how to implement the Kamishibai board in your workplace.

Ask your team members what they think about using a Kamishibai board. Their feedback can help you fine-tune your plans and ensure everyone is on board with the new system.

2. Choose the Right Board

Develop a consistent use for your Kamishibai board by displaying it in the workplace. You will also want to make sure that you choose a large board to accommodate all the information you need to communicate.

The placement of the board is also essential. The board should be placed in an area where it will be easily visible to all team members as relates to the purpose. For instance, if you’re using the Kamishibai board to track production tasks, it should be placed near the production line. For HR purposes, the board should be placed in a break room or other common area.

3. Train Your Team

Once you’ve chosen the right Kamishibai board and have it set up in the workplace, it’s time to train your team on how to use it. Start by explaining the purpose of the board and how it will be used.

Then, demonstrate how to use the board. Be sure to include all team members in training so everyone knows how to use the tool.

Finally, ensure you answer any questions that team members may have. Once everyone is on board with using the Kamishibai board, you can start reaping the benefits of this powerful tool.

Take Your Kamishibai Board Digital with Software

While the tried-and-true method of using a physical Kamishibai board is still effective, many companies are now taking their boards digital.

There are several software options available that allow you to create and manage your Kamishibai board online. This can be a great option if you have team members who work remotely or if you want to make updates to the board more quickly and easily.

Digital Kamishibai boards also have the added benefit of being able to track more data points than their physical counterparts. This information can be used to further improve efficiency and productivity in the workplace.

The Bottom Line

The Kamishibai board is a powerful tool that can be used to improve efficiency in the workplace. Not only does it give a visual representation of tasks that need to be completed, but it can also be used to track the progress of individual orders.

If you’re looking for a way to improve efficiency in your workplace, consider using a Kamishibai board. With a little bit of planning and training, you can start reaping the benefits of this tool in no time.

Want to learn more about enhancing your production systems and processes with leading techniques? Contact us today to discover how software solutions can help implement a variety of digital enhancements – from Kamishibai boards to more!

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