Navigating with Ease: Mastering Wayfinding in Your Facility
July 19, 2022

In the pursuit of a more efficient and productive workplace, the integration of waste-free production tools like Kanban, Total Productive Maintenance, and 5S is essential. These methodologies provide a robust framework for enhancing workstations, leading to significant gains in efficiency and quality. However, many businesses encounter a common hurdle: sustaining these improvements beyond the initial couple of years.

The solution lies in the realm of visual communication at the workstation. Originated by Gwendolyn Galsworth, the concept of visual workplace communication aims to "convey critical task information at a glance, without a single word." This approach first identifies information gaps at the workstation, then utilizes visuals to relay these essential details.

Visual Tools Identification and Utilization

In a manufacturing setting, precision in selecting supplies for a job is crucial. For instance, a cable assembly task might require various types of sheaves, differing in material, bushings, and tolerances. Through Visual Workplace tools, one can distinguish these components using labels or color codes, making identification effortless and error-free.

Empowering Workers with Immediate Information

The visual workplace empowers employees by enabling quick identification of tools, supplies, and procedures at the point of use. This can be achieved through various means, including:

  • Outlining tools and equipment on a shadow board for instant recognition.
  • Labeling critical locations to guide proper procedure adherence, ensuring tasks are executed correctly.
  • Creating mobile workstations that can move between areas, reducing downtime and accelerating task completion. These stations should also leverage visual communication tools like labels to aid workers in station identification and organization.

Incorporating the 5S methodology further enhances these stations' efficiency.

Efficient Communication Without Words

A visual workplace ensures that accurate and current information is readily available to employees when and where they need it. This eliminates the need for work stoppages due to queries and reduces errors caused by incorrect, outdated, or missing information.

For example, in a gearbox manufacturing process, it's crucial to know whether a gearbox has passed quality assurance tests when transferring it to another department for assembly. Visual communication comes into play here. Manufacturing workers can mark completed gearboxes with a green label and incomplete ones with a yellow label, providing immediate status recognition at a glance.

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