Visual management refers to the form of communication implemented by giving a visual overview of manufacturing operations. With visual management, all the shop flow processes are turned into visual data that every relevant stakeholder can look at and understand. Some refer to it as the manufacturing scoreboard that anyone can look at to clearly understand what is happening in the factory.
Visual management is one of the lean manufacturing strategies used together with the 5S (set, sort, shine, standardize, sustain) audit to improve the functioning and organization of the workplace.
Functions of visual management
1. Process transparency
When all the critical information about the processes in the factory is laid out on a visual scoreboard, it is much easier for everyone in the company to know what is going on. Through process transparency, visual management smoothens the flow of information between frontline workers, managers, and other relevant stakeholders that may want to learn about the processes in the factory.
2. Job facilitation
Visual management is usually implemented with the 5s audit principle to improve order in the workspace. For instance, visual illustrations can be used to represent the location of the different tools. This reduces the non-value addition actions, such as searching for tools.
Visual illustrations can enable operators to follow the correct procedures of doing certain operations. This instills discipline in following standardized procedures.
4. On Job training
When information about the different production processes is represented with illustrations on the wall, it is much easier for new employees to know what to do. This will also minimize the destructions that would have occurred if new operators constantly had to ask the old ones how to do certain things.
Types of visual management
Visual management using tools and parts
This involves representing the location of the different tools using illustrations, making it easier to detect missing tools. It is also much easier to locate the tools you need when their location is mapped out visually.
Visual management by factory layout
It involves creating a visual layout of the shop floor to make it easier for operators to know which stage of production they are at any given moment. It also makes Gemba walks easier for managers.
Visual management using markings
It involves using labels and signs in specific areas of the shop flow to let operators know what actions to take, where to locate a particular item, restricted floor shop areas, and safety guidelines.
Visual management using data displays
This form of visual management involves installing displays in the different sections of the shop floor. These displays can be used to show information such as KPIs and real-time analytics regarding the performance of the shop floor.
Reasons for implementing visual management
- It creates a safer working environment
- It improves process efficiency
- It facilitates a seamless flow of information in the factory
- It helps in minimizing waste, especially time-related waste
- It eases the orientation of new factory employees in the company