The benefits of visual management are well known. Visual management is a tried and tested technique utilized for communicating the status or standard of a process in a simple but effective way.

Within the factory environment one of the most prominent examples of visual management is the production control board. Production control boards are used to bring together in one place within the workcell.information such as scheduling and issue management.

Typically these boards will be laid out utilizing charts, process flows and lists. Given the target of visual management to highlight results that are non-standard/abnormal, production control boards can be further enhanced through the use of appropriate colors.

RAG

The simplest method of utilizing colour to further enhance production control boards is through utilizing a RAG or Red, Amber Green. RAG’s follow the same principle as traffic lights using different colors to represent different status.

Red – on stop there is a problem
Amber – there is a problem but it is being addressed, production still underway
Green – no problems

Why use color at all?

Visual management can underpin an organizations improvement activities through improving how they operate. One of the key principles is to ensure that information is transferred and understood as rapidly as possible (with as little training as possible). Color can be a key enabler as it translates to a status often in a much more simpler and direct way than words can. If we also consider the placement of visual indicators around the factory or workplace – color is much more easily visible at distance.

Utilizing RAG on a production board

Production boards are an excellent place to utilize color as a means to express status. For example this can be used to:

• Indicate adherence to schedule,
• Indicate material availability
• Indicate equipment availability.
• Indicate team availability
• Etc

This can be to both supplement words and in many cases used instead of.

Summary

Color can be a really effective tool – most of us have an inbuilt awareness of key colors and meanings (like in the example of a RAG) and can quickly translate this into the workplace. Visual management fosters understanding and reaction to situations so consider how this can be facilitated through different visual management methods when deploying your solution.

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