Visual factory is a term to describe how data and information is conveyed in a lean manufacturing environment. In a lean manufacturing environment time and resources dedicated to conveying information, although necessary, are a form of waste. By using visual methods to convey information such as signs, charts and andons, information is easily accessible to those who need it. The current status of all processes is immediately apparent.
The more complex any process becomes, the more critical information exchange is to the process. Visual factory is a set of tools that allow for accurate and efficient information conveyance. Visual Factory is implemented in two stages – determining what information needs to be communicated and how this is accomplished.
Determining what information needs to be conveyed is the starting point of visual factory. The current state must be compared to the future state goals in order to determine what information is to be delivered. The information required to get from one state to another is what must be conveyed. How the information is conveyed depends on the desired end result. The location and method of information delivery also depends on the relevancy of the information. Typically this data includes.
Process metrics are typically displayed at the machine or cell. This information is most effective when it is delivered in real-time. Immediate feedback facilitates immediate improvement. When light is used to indicate information it is referred to as an andon. Andons are often the centerpiece of the visual factory because of the tremendous real-time process information that they convey.
Work instructions are typically posted in the production areas. Highly visual instructions with photographs and graphics will generally minimize production errors. The more information can be conveyed visually the more it will improve communication.
General plant information is typically posted in a central location where everyone has access to it. Lean manufacturing relies on bi-directional information exchange throughout the organization. In a visual factory environment information is delivered to inform, alert and motivate.
Efficient timely communication allows organizations to function at their full potential.
Visual Factory Allows Companies to communicate and provide world class performance.