The intent of a visual factory is that the whole workplace is set-up with signs, labels, color-coded markings, etc. such that anyone unfamiliar with the process can, in a matter of minutes, know what is going on, understand the process, and know what is being done correctly and what is out of place.
FACTS AND CONCEPTS
There are two types of application in visual factory: displays and controls.
A visual display relates information and data to employees in the area. For example, charts showing the monthly revenues of the company or a graphic depicting a certain type of quality issue that group members should be aware of.
A visual control is intended to actually control or guide the action of the group members. Examples of controls are readily apparent in society: stop signs, handicap parking signs, no smoking signs, etc.
This is in contrast to previous workplace rules, which dictated that performance data should be retained as "management secrets", for the sole consumption of managers who knew what do with the numbers.
Visual controls describe workplace safety, production throughput, material flow, quality metrics, or other information.
The most important benefit of a visual factory is that it shows when something is out of place or missing.
Visual displays and controls help keep things running as efficiently as they were designed to run. The efficient design of the production process that results from lean manufacturing application carries with it a set of assumptions. The process will be as successful as it was designed to be as long as the assumptions hold true. A factory with expansive visual display and control applications will allow employees to immediately know when one of the assumptions has not held true.
Audio signals in the factory are also very important because they signal malfunctioning equipment, sound warnings before the start of machine operation, or other useful information.
Visual management is an important support for cellular manufacturing. Visual management techniques express information in a way that can be understood quickly by everyone.
Sharing information through visual tools helps keep production running smoothly and safely. Shop floor teams are often involved in devising and implementing these tools through 5S and other improvement activities.
Visual information can also help prevent mistakes. Color coding is a form of visual display often used to prevent errors. Shaded "pie slices" on a dial gauge tell the viewer instantly when the needle is out of the safe range. Matching color marks is another approach that can help people use the right tool or assemble the right part.
EXAMPLES OF VISUAL APPLICATIONS
color-coded pipes and wires
painted floor areas for good stock, scrap, trash, etc.
shadow boards for parts and tools
workgroup display boards with charts, metrics, procedures, etc.
production status boards
direction of flow indicators
Label: Visual Control