Visual Factory

A visual factory is a production facility where information is displayed so that everyone can see the same things at the same time, all the time. This includes metrics and performance information that is on visual display boards so that people need to access a computer to understand what is happening. Especially important is work group performance information such as safety, quality, productivity and on-time delivery.

In a visual factory there are plenty of signs that show where things are including departments, work cells and production lines. Lines on the floors and color coding show transportation lanes and inventory locations.

There are dozens of techniques for creating a visual factory. Some of them include:

  • Primary visual display (PVD)
  • Signal activity — move or produce
  • Control material — where and how much to store
  • Identify abnormal conditions (errors, rework or scrap)
  • Display standardized methods (work instructions and single point lessons)
  • Communicate performance (work group metrics)
  • Material flow and Kanban locations

The concept of visual factory can apply to any area where work gets done – including offices. The way to think about it is to ask yourself the question, “If someone who knew nothing about what was going on here suddenly entered the area, could they tell at a glance how things work, how material moves, who does what and how well everything is performing.”

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