How to Implement Lean Manufacturing: Straighten and See (5S) – Part 6

Rick Bohan

The last element of Straighten and See assures that information about the work that is to take place at each location is carried out consistently and effectively.   We’re going to discuss three elements of this Straighten and See Component:  Visual Display, Visual Metrics, and Visual Control

Establishing easy to see information about work station performance and activity.

Our Visual Displays will communicate the right information in the right format at the right place.  Visual Display refers to the visual communication of “how to do it” information: where to put it and how much to put there, where to get it and how much to get, when and how to make it and how much to make.  Obviously, the variety of visuals that can be employed to communicate this sort of info can be widely varying, from squares on the floor that show where the scrap hopper goes to notebooks with instructions and specs for setups and changeovers.

Visual Metrics provide real time (or as close to it as we can manage) updates as to how well each work center is performing.  They allow everyone to see how well (or not) the work center is performing and make “out of standard” situations apparent.  Are we on schedule or not?  Are we running at rate or not?  Are we staying in spec or not?  Have scrap and delays increased, decreased, or stayed the same recently?  Most of these and other performance metrics can be updated by the operators themselves.  As well, the operators themselves are in a position to discuss the metrics with each other and with supervisors.  This engagement with the metrics is as important as the posting of the metrics…maybe moreso.  But it all starts with making the metrics visible.

Visual Controls help us to create an error-proof (or, at least, error resistant) workplace.  They promote easy adherence to standards.

Again, it’s difficult for me to tell you just where you can apply these sorts of controls.  You can download Brady’s 50 Lean Visuals,  a resource that can jumpstart your thinking.  Also, do a websearch for “5S images” or “visual factory images” for more ideas.


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