Visual Work Environment

The Visual Workplace, or “Visual Workplace,” is also known as “Visual Factory,” “Visual Thinking” or “Visual Management. They all mean the same thing: to make everything visible. Visual Workplace helps operations reduce waste and secure improvements.

This is achieved by improving communication, reducing complexity and making deviations visible. Visualization is one of the most important elements in Lean environments.

The goal of the visual work environment is for everything to be self-explanatory. The idea is that information about progress, priorities and standards should be clear at a glance. This prevents ambiguity about how the work is done and its status. Lean also means open communication. No problems are swept under the rug, even for suppliers and customers visiting the shop floor. Everything is open and visible.

Real-time information, clear instructions, expectations (goals), visual aids, warning signs, standard operating procedure and other important information help ensure workers know what to do what, when and how. The visual work environment plays an important role in the bottom-up approach by giving employees on the shop floor ownership in driving things. Because cases are self-explanatory, not every action requires the supervisor or department manager. This is a crucial step in any Kaizen or Lean transformation process.

Symbol helps set up a visual workspace.

  • 5S program.
  • Color coding and labeling of tools.
  • Standardized furniture, trays and color coding.
  • Plasticized work instructions.
  • Delineation of cells or departments.
  • Markings on the floor for machines, parts and walkways.
  • Markers for work-in-progress locations.
  • Clear order instructions on work in progress.
  • Kanban racks and Kanban cards.
  • Tool shadowing boards (SMED).
  • Clear communication boards.

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