The visual indicators used to ensure a process produces what is expected, and if not, what must happen.
Visual control is a technique employed in many places and contexts whereby control of an activity or process is made easier or more effective by deliberate use of visual signals. These signals can be of many forms, from different coloured clothing for different teams, to focussing measures upon the size of the problem and not the size of the activity, to kanban and heijunka boxes and many other diverse examples.
Visual control communicates very effectively the information needed for decision making. An example is the use of painted tool silhouettes in tool racks to indicate which tool should be clipped to a particular location is an effective way of not only encouraging tools to always be kept in standard locations but allows almost instant audit of missing tools. Visual control is very often about replacing textual or numeric data displays with carefully designed graphical displays whose meaning can be understood at a glance and are therefore more likely to be effective at communicating the required message.
Introduction Visual control are means, devices, or mechanisms that are designed to manage or control the operations (processes) so as to meet the following purposes: • make the problems, abnormalities, or deviation from standards visible to everyone and thus corrective action can be taken immediately, • display the operating or progress status in a easy to see format. • provide instruction. • convey information. • provide immediate feedback to people. Therefore it is the principle of increasing efficiency and effectiveness simply by deliberately making things visible. When things are visible, they are kept in conscious mind. It also serves to ensure that everyone has a common viewpoint of what is being displayed. Visual control (VC) is known in several other terms, visibility management, management by visibility, and management by sight.
Some common Visual Applications
• color-coded pipes and wires • painted floor areas for good stock, scrap, trash, etc. • shadow boards for parts and tools • indicator lights • workgroup display boards with charts, metrics, procedures, etc. • production status boards • direction of flow indicators Importance Visual control methods aim to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of a process by making the steps in that process more visible. The theory behind visual control is that if something is clearly visible or in plain sight, it is easy to remember and keep at the forefront of the mind. Another aspect of visual control is that everyone is given the same visual cues and so are likely to have the same vantage point.
There are many different techniques that are used to apply visual control in the workplace. Some companies use visual control as an organizational tool for materials. A clearly labeled storage board lets the employee know exactly where a tool belongs and what tools are missing from the display board. Another simple example of a common visual control is to have reminders posted on cubicle walls so that they remain in plain sight. Visual signs and signals communicate information that is needed to make effective decisions. These decisions may be safety oriented or they may give reminders as to what steps should be taken to resolve a problem. Most companies use visual controls in one degree or another, many of them not even realizing that the visual controls that they are making have a name and a function in the workplace. Whether it is recognized by the name of "visual control" or not, the fact is that replacing text or number with graphics makes a set of information easier to understand with only a glance, making it a more efficient way of communicating a message.
Visual controls are designed to make the control and management of a company as simple as possible. This entails making problems, abnormalities, or deviations from standards visible to everyone. When these deviations are visible and apparent to all, corrective action can be taken to immediately correct these problems. Visual controls are meant to display the operating or progress status of a given operation in an easy to see format and also to provide instruction and to convey information. A visual control system must have an action component associated with it in the event that the visually represented procedures are not being followed in the real production process. Therefore visual controls must also have a component where immediate feedback is provided to workers.
Types There are two types of application in visual controls, 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. - Visual control implementation There are two types of visual control implementation items, actual and analog. • Examples of actual items that can be implemented through visual control are items that are designed to designate a location/position for each item, indicate quantity including inventory levels, distinguish items from each other and specify form. • Analog items that can be implemented through visual control are seen in the following examples: colors, shapes, symbols, characters, numbers, graphs, electronic lights, sound, touch, smell, taste, etc. While implementing the visual control methods, the focus must be on the main purpose of visual control that is to organize the working area so that all people (employees and visitors) can tell whether things are going as they should or if there is a problem occurring. These factors should be clear as they stand as in there should be no need for professional help in determining how things are running. Steps needed to implement a visual control procedure Implementing a visual control procedure involves elements of planning, action and checking. Usually there are many ways of implementation and so the following steps are quite effective and are used effectively by many companies while choosing a way for implementation.
• Organize the program committee. (PLAN) • Develop a plan and budget. (PLAN) • Collect and develop examples and cases. • Publicly announcement the start of the program. (DO) • Provide training and education to employees. (DO) • Select a day and everybody apply VC in his/her own working area. (DO) • Evaluate the results of VC. (CHECK) • Self-Examination and Take corrected actions. (ACTION)
The first step in the implementation procedure for visual control is to organize a program committee who will be responsible for developing a plan and a budget for that plan. Examples and cases will need to be collected and personally applicable examples developed. Once the program is developed an announcement and introduction as to the start of the program needs to be announced. Then employees will be given some training and support until they are comfortable with the new process. Once they feel comfortable the new procedures will be implemented in specific working areas. After closely observing the actual application of the visual control plan, evaluations will be made regarding its effectiveness and corrective actions will take place if there are any inefficiencies.
Examples Common examples of Visual Control - Tape Manual beside the Appliances: Often we are looking for the instructional manual for a specific home appliance or hand tool. Taping manual beside the appliance so that it can be found easily. - Print Instruction inside the Cover of Washing Machine: Printing short operating instruction and safety concerns inside the cover of home appliance allows users to easily find the instruction and prevent from inappropriate use of the appliance. - Use Tools Organizer to Organize Tools: Tools organizer helps to organize the small tools. It can eliminate the need of searching for tools when needed. It can also prevent tools from wearing out and rusty. - Label Each CD for Easier Identifying: Putting a label on each CD helps to quickly identify the needed CD and reduce the search time. Real Time Examples Pull board
This is an example of a pull board used with internal operations, as shown, or even with external customers. The board in broken into three color bands: • Red zone indicates the supplier is on the verge of not satisfying their customer. Very low level of goods maintained. • Yellow zone indicates customer requirements are being met. Low level of finished goods maintained. • Green zone indicates the customers’ needs are being fulfilled. Supplier is building more than the customer is requiring and it may be time to stop production until demand is more in line with supply. The cards hanging on the hooks in the colored zones reflect the part number identified in the section, a given quantity of material in one container.
Computer Systems Division, Hewlett-Packard, Cupertino, CA
Charts (include some educational charts) posted on the walls in the general work area.
The production schedule is presented visually. As the units are produced, red dots are flipped over. The variance of actual to planned production is shown easily. Toyota Motor mfg., USA, Long Beach, CA
There is a computerized board in the heart of the assembly area that indicates the status of each machine and facilitates coordination of assemblies.
The message is clear: No Kanban, No Production
Visual control of locomotion in Parkinson's disease Visual control of braking based on information about time-to-collision
A theory of how a driver might visually control his braking. A mathematical analysis of the changing optic array at the driver's eye indicates that the simplest type of visual information, which would be sufficient for controlling braking and also be likely to be easily picked up by the driver, is information about time-to-collision, rather than information about distance, speed, or acceleration/deceleration. It is shown how the driver could, in principle, use visual information about time-to-collision in registering when he is on a collision course, in judging when to start braking, and in controlling his ongoing braking. Implications of the theory for safe speeds and safe following distances are taken into account, visual angular velocity detection thresholds, and suggestions are made as to how safety on the roads might be improved.
Benefits of visual control The whole purpose behind implementing visual control techniques is to expose abnormalities in the production line that could ultimately end up costing the company money or create waste. When visual control is able to do a good job at helping employees to recognize these abnormalities action can be taken to correct the problems, reduce manufacturing costs, reduce possible waste, shorten production lead time and thus keep the delivery due dates, reduce inventory, ensure a safe and comfortable working environment, and increase the company's profit.
Visual control systems are implemented with the expectation that thousands of location and operation details can be managed visually thus aiding the growth and quality of the company. An added benefit to visual control systems is that many of the visual controls used eliminate the need to verbally communicate a need. Instead needs and expectations are clearly displayed, eliminating the time often wasted on the confusion of miscommunication due to different methods of verbal communication. With visual controls you can potentially create an atmosphere of production which is self-regulating and self-explanatory. Employees are comfortable because they clearly understand what is expected of them and so will be the managers. Customers are the ultimate beneficiaries of such efficiency when they consistently receive a high quality product.
Potential Benefits of VC Implementing VC in the plant would help companies to exposing abnormalities, problems, deviations, waste, unevenness, and unreasonability to people, thus corrective actions can be taken immediately to: • correct the problems • reduce manufacturing costs and possible waste • shorten production lead time and thus keep the delivery due date • reduce inventory • ensure a safe and comfortable working environment • increase company's profit
Conclusion The whole point of visual control is that it is used to better implement other procedures that may be too tedious or complicated to understand. The principles are not strange but to a company who has been producing a product the same way for many years, change can come as quite a shock. Implementing visual controls to help aid in the implementation process, enhances those innovative processes and allows them to better enhance the overall efficiency of the company.