How Visual Management can reduce waste processes. Part One
- May
How Visual Management can reduce waste processes. Part One

How Visual Management can reduce waste processes? Part One

Visual Management significantly does help our manufacturing environments but firstly what does this term mean and how does its implementation reduce waste processes?

In this blog episode I will explain by using 4 “Wastes” which are often seen in practical situations in the workplace. For each waste I will provide areas and examples in which visual management can negate their harmful aspects and support continuous improvement.

Ok, so what is Visual Management?

The term is now often used to describe visual signals that have a practical purpose in changing or guiding human behaviour. We as humans are visual and are constantly making and interpreting meanings from our surroundings. Within the Manufacturing environment C. I’s, Production & Lean Managers can greatly enhance their reduction of waste processes by utilising visual triggers around the workplace. Whether these are signs, labels, floor marking, layouts or colour coding, all sorts of techniques. Basically, what we see is often what we do. For example, provide a Visual Standard of a process next to a workstation and everyone knows the structure of the action straight away.

Waste One: Inventory

Many companies recognise waste in the form of excess products or materials that are not processed or are involved in the production.

How can we alleviate this waste? By using a visual aid such as Kanban Shelving, we can provide the operator with visual indicators when, for example, a particular material should be ordered. The timing of this order is pertinent as it makes sure production is not stopped and that storage, handling of products or materials is not required until the production requires it.

How Visual Management can reduce waste processes. Part One Lean 5S Products UK


Waste Two: Motion:

Wasted time and effort is a waste when related to unnecessary movements by people.

With the support of Tool Shadow Boards, operators at a specific process can have the required tools and materials to hand and clearly identified. Time spent looking for items is reduced.

Clear and bright factory signs to organise different departments, cells etc can also quicken both employee and visitor’s insight into the workplace’ functionality. Better understanding of how the workplace is ordered significantly reduces wasted motion and helps foster a positive environment.

How Visual Management can reduce waste processes. Part One Lean 5S Products UK


Waste Three: Unused Talent:

Common within manufacturing workplaces is the underutilisation of people’s skills, talents and knowledge. More involved in something the more people feel ownership of something.

Visual Management tools such as Production Boards/ SDQCL Boards, kaizen suggestion boxes and Red Tag Stations all provide a vehicle for employees to share their knowledge, insight and point of view. Constant sustaining (another 5S) allows for continuous improvement of processes. Providing a visual area where people can meet, discuss and plan improvements is a great way to drive out this waste. Many of our NHS Hospitals for instance use “Huddle Boards” (mobile whiteboards) where weekly or daily meetings can be taken to discuss topics. Manage your space so that people can be heard.

How Visual Management can reduce waste processes. Part One Lean 5S Products UK
Printed whiteboard


Waste Four: Transportation:

This waste is when wasted time, resources and costs result from unnecessarily moving products and materials.

Better visual management would reduce these wastes.

For example, providing a Red Tag Area will ensure all materials, equipment etc that is NOT part of the process is taken out of the way. Once an item has been “tagged” it can be removed from the site without its present effecting the processes that really matter to the company.

Improved floor marking will greatly reduce time looking and deciding upon where certain materials, products are stored. Using different colours for different departments will instantly tell employee and visitors where an item is from or where it should be.

How Visual Management can reduce waste processes. Part One Lean 5S Products UK


To summarise then, we make sense and organise our behaviour as humans mostly through visual means. As practitioners in the workplace, we can utilise this human trait to better organise ourselves, our space and our organisations as a whole. Better visual cues or triggers will shift people’s behaviour into making better choices that will support and help processes to become leaner and more efficient.

If you have any questions or wish to discuss how our range of Custom visual management products and services can help your organisation, then please feel free to get in touch.



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