The visual work environment, otherwise ‘Visual Workplace’ is also known as ‘Visual Factory’, ‘Visual Thinking’ or ‘Visual management’. They all mean the same: make everything visible. Visual Workplace helps operations to reduce their waste and secure improvements.
This is achieved by improving communication, reducing complexity and by making inconsistencies visible. Visualisation is one of the most important elements in a Lean-environment.
The goal of the visual work environment is that everything is self explanatory. The objective is to clarify progress, priorities and standards, so that it is instantly visible. This prevents uncertainty about the manner of working and the status of the work. Lean also means an open communication. No problems will be swept under the rug, not even for suppliers and customers who visit the workfloor. Everything is open and visible.
Real time information, clear instructions, expectations (objectives), visual support, warning signs, the standard way of work and other important information helps the employees to make sure that they know what to do, when and how to do it. The visual work environment plays an important role in the bottom-up approach by giving employees on the work floor their own responsibility in managing affairs. Because affairs are self-explanatory, supervisors or department managers are not required for every action. This is a crucial step in every Kaizen or Lean-transformation process.
Symbol helps with the establishment of a visual work environment.
● Color coding and labeling tools
● Standardised furniture, trays and color codes.
● Plastified work instructions.
● Demarcations of cells or departments.
● Marks on the floor for machinery, parts and walking lanes.
● Marks for in progress work locations.
● Clear order instructions for work in progress.
● Kanban-racks and Kanban-cards.
● Shadow boards for tools (SMED).
● Clear communication boards.