Designing the layout of your production control board

Production control boards are typically used to monitor the progress of a manufacturing process against a plan. Production control boards are commonly established on either a pen/paper diagram, a erasable board or a digital display.

The production control board is usually situated where the process starts and ends (it can be based by cell or by total production line or both) i.e. you don’t place it at the other end of the building or away from where the work in being carried out.

Production control boards are common place and can be effective tools to communicate the status of
• Work in progress
• Output
• Performance vs plan
• Capacity

Designing your board

The beauty of production control boards is that they are simple to deploy but highly effective if used correctly. The production board gets updated at regular intervals and short and to the point review meetings can take place to assess progress and identify issues and mitigation.

But what should go on your board? The idea is to keep it simple. Place what’s important on your board that might include your planned output, the process steps and expected progress (vs actual) or other. Here are some common inclusions on production control boards.

Progress/Output against plan

This is the key element to include. It communicates the plan and provides an update as to what performance is like against it.

There are various ways of communicating this for example

By Process step vs Plan

This example shows progress against a 7 step process and plan dates. A RAG (Red/Amber/Green) status is displayed against each job together with other information (in this case parts shortages and requirement vs actual shipdates). Note how this board is designed to display performance against plan, what work is left and communicate simply performance against customer required dates.

Or by output

In this example the factory produces 10 widgets an hour – there is an output check on an hourly basis and performance (and delta’s) against plan are recorded.

Note how in both cases the production board includes the last time the data was updated in order to display confidence that the information is robust and timely.

Equipment availability

You can’t go wrong with red and green! Keeping visual management at its simplest utilize a simple matrix using color to indicate machine availability, actions and owners. For example

Key performance Indicators

Consider placing KPI’s (specifically QCD measures) on your control board to indicate past performance

Whereabouts

A simple whereabouts chart can align resources with the production plan

e.g.

Issues and actions and owners

An updated issues sheet containing current actions in support of the production plan can be useful. Again keep it simple and keep the charts and information displayed relevant to the production task and up-to date.

Summary

The ideas behind production control boards are simple. Combining information in a single place ideally within the production area can enable workers to
Easily see the status of production
Understand the issues
Understand what activities are required to meet plan.

Production meetings should be based around the production board and should be short and focused around the information presented. If there are issues then because the production board is places in-situ – it should be relatively easy to find out answers to questions raised.

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