Both the operator and the supervisor
could assess the state of product with
a quick glance.
This is only a sampling of possible
visual cues, but it at least gives you
some ideas to get started. One word
of caution: Be sure to take before-and-after pictures, because it is so
easy to forget the old way.
Let’s revisit Fred. He is looking ahead
to what jobs he needs to work on in
his weld cell. The plant is well on its
way to implementing lean methods
and techniques. The plant leadership
has invested in education and awareness for all the employees … and
more important, the employees are
involved in making changes.
What does this have to do with Fred
getting ready for his next job in the
weld cell? Thanks to visual cues, Fred
knows exactly what to work on next.
He simply refers to a dispatch list on
the production control board.
Material for the next job is queued
in a spot that’s labeled with floor
markings in Fred’s work area. He can
expect the material to be ready in the
same place every time, because this is
part of the standard process for material flow.
wanted a positioner
to fabricate boats.
• Labor per boat cut
from 6,000 hours to
• Improved ergonomics
• Higher PROFITS
Capacity: 35,000 pounds
75 ft. long by 14 ft.
wide with 92" of
Tolerance: Less than one
inch of center deflection
ChesapeakeAd_Fab112017.indd 1 11/17/2017 3:35:29PM
Fred does not need to chase down the supervisor to get
this answer. There is no scrambling or disruption, no dropping everything to look for material for the next job. The
entire operation, including Fred’s weld cell, has a smooth,
predictable rhythm to it.
Make It Easy
When you go to gemba, look at the operation with visual
cues in mind. If you visit a supplier or customer plant, the
same thing applies. See how effective the visual communications are.
Put yourself in Fred’s shoes. Have you done enough to
make it easy for Fred, the supervisor, and the material handler to do their jobs? Visual cues help create clarity and
alignment in your fab shop. The more you can minimize
disruptions, the better the environment will be for Fred and
all his colleagues to produce consistently, effectively, and
Jeff Sipes is principal of Back2Basics LLC, 317-439-7960, www.
back2basics-lean.com. If you have improvement ideas you’d like
to read about, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Senior Editor Tim Heston at email@example.com.