lean manufacturing

A Guide for Lean Manufacturing Production Boards

Bulwark Acquisition Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Visual management is an approach used by manufacturers worldwide to provide a quick snapshot of the current status of operations, and more importantly the current and long-term trend of that status.  The visual management board gives you a glimpse at the big picture.  From the big picture view, the board helps individuals in your organization structure your operational improvement strategies and subsequently monitor and improve your desired improvements. There are several advantages of the lean manufacturing production boards. For starters, they improve workplace accountability.  Your team can visually monitor their own performance and see real, daily updates showing their progress.  Visual metrics help the communication amongst team members and builds a focus on your business’ specific goals.  This focus streamlines your team’s ability to overcome the impediments, identify issues and ultimately reduce waste in your business’ value-streams.

What is visual management?

You have certainly seen a visual management board. Any business can install a whiteboard and place arbitrary metrics to track.  But in any business, time is one of the most important resources we have available.  How can you ensure that you are getting the most improvement and streamlining from the time spent on your visual management board? How does one usually know when one can proceed safely through a significant safety or quality trend? We use metrics every day to make guided, intelligent decisions.  When are you driving to work how would you know about how fast and rapidly you would be able to drive on any given stretch of some highway? Visual indicators or metrics are displayed on your dash to let you know how fast you are traveling.  How would you know about how fast you will be going or even how much fuel do you have with you? In such cases, we have the red, green and yellow traffic lights as well as the speed limit instruments and signs on the dashboard which tell us how fast are we going as well as how much fuel we have. With the right tools and information, anyone can make guided, intelligent decisions in even the most difficult and timely circumstances. Your visual management system should let you know if your business is ready to deliver on its safety, quality, delivery and cost goals.  And more importantly, the system gives you updates early and often if you are of course giving you and your time to correct the situation before an important customer deliverable is missed, or a significant quality issue is delivered to your customers.

Taking a cue from vehicular monitoring, business visual management systems should be simple, intuitive and effective displays of various necessary information which provide you with timely information about the current condition of your business operations. A visual management system is a key tool of communication in the lean environment, but also any business environment where improvement is desired.  Visual management systems should provide you with most of the important information just at a mere glance. Visual management systems come in many shapes and sizes including the standard whiteboards for the continuous improvement.  Our goal with COPEX is to simplify and streamline your metrics operations to minimize your touch-time on metrics and ensure that all time spends in monitoring is a value-add to your business. Within this article, you would be getting details of visual management boards and lean manufacturing production boards.

When you are developing any visual management system (including standard production tracking boards) for any business setting, you must focus on the simplicity and versatility. Businesses typically focus primarily on vital measurements or the highest level information and then exhibiting them in such a manner that the information is:

  • Consistent Information Company-Wide
    Most of the boards in all the organizations are usually similar with almost no variation or creativity only as the different processes need it. This improves usability between departments and aids in the comparison between business units.
  • Easily Comprehendible

Metrics that are not easily read and understood add little to business efficiency and improvement and more importantly add costly time and effort to process. All levels of the organizations using the same visual management system will more easily process metrics company-wide with a quick sense and knowledge about the health of the process, the line or the cell.

  • Visible

It provides a really quick look on it from a good distance about the health of the entire process, the line or the cell.  People shouldn’t need to stand at the visual management system for hours a day just to get a quick glimpse at the health of the unit.

  • Proper Units of Measure (Your Metrics)
  1. The safety of the people (any kind of injury), absenteeism (who are present there so that you know whom to work with)
    b. Quality – Monitor your per-piece scrap rates, trend defect conditions, rates of re-work
    c. Schedule – Monitoring as-planned schedules versus as-delivered
    d. Cost – As-planned cost versus as-delivered costs
    e. 5S – Workplaces should be clean and efficient to reduce cleanliness caused time-waste

Determining what to track can be one of the most time-consuming and important for a business interested in driving and monitoring an improvement plan. From employees, clients, sub-suppliers and corporate audits, many people pass through your facility yearly and will see your metrics monitors. A good start is asking, “What would my customers want me to track?”.  Or, “What would my corporate office want me to track?” Metrics are tailored to your business, and if well-selected will drive your business to peak performance.

Anyone walking through your facility should see the high-level performance of your business. In some way, most businesses track the global metrics of Safety, Quality, Delivery, People, and Cost. Of course, these things are very important to almost all of us in different ways.  Customers and employees would expect and appreciate to notice high-level and positive statuses of the facility with respect to these categories. The indications should not only be too data-intense and render themselves unreadable. Usually only a simple green, yellow, or red indication is enough to indicate the present status.

However as we move deep into the facility, the level of information must become all the more focused and relevant to the processes that are occurring in that particular area. Each area has a composite metric which builds into the overall business unit’s health. Each area may take the global metrics, and find lower level metrics that roll-up into the overall company’s goals.

So what is that you should do to create or even improve your own visual management process? A good method to begin is to use a value stream mapping tool in order to genuinely understand where your own bottlenecks are. This tool will help you understand what points in the process you can extract data to monitor.  You might also develop the focused key performance indicators which will help in measuring the results as well as use the visual management boards for communication and aligning your organization. And lastly, and sometimes most importantly when attacking these problems, you can engage all your employees in the continuous improvement process to ask for suggestions in relieving those bottlenecks.

The lean philosophy predominantly revolves around the elimination of the waste in all the different forms in your workplace. The specific lean methods usually include the just-in-time (JIT) inventory management, the Kanban scheduling systems, the 5S workplace organization, the Scrum and the other “agile “and lean software development methods. Most of these systems and concepts had been pioneered by the automobile company Toyota in the 1940s and then were eventually modified by several industries beyond the automotive production to take the concepts and apply them to their individual business operations. By applying the simple yet effective principles to your own production, you may effectively improve the profitability of your firm as well as increase the complexity.


The lean principles always aim to minimize every kind of waste, from the sources as varied as the material defects to even worker ergonomics. Most of the sources of wastes are quite easy to identify as well as rectify, just like some machine which is out of adjustment and produces high volumes of problems. The other forms of wastes might include the environmental conditions which impede worker impact efficiency. Some better lighting might help the workers read the production instructions, or moving some file cabinet may also eliminate the wasted time for any clerk.

Worker Satisfaction

Implementing the lean principles in your particular workspace require the inputs and participation of the production staff who work for you. The production staff is usually at the best place for seeing where the waste or the inefficiency usually occurs. The production staff not only serves as an important resource to you but they also usually respond in quite a positive manner to the sincere efforts made by you to involve and introduce them to the improvement processes. You are showing your workforce that you are interested in making their job more efficient and value-producing.  Whenever they see the suggestions or the ideas proposed by them getting incorporated, an inexplicable sense of satisfaction overwhelms them regarding their contribution to the company which is quite likely to follow.

Conversely – The Worker Frustration

When any certain level of any kind of refinement is met, applying the lean methods for squeezing all the more economy through production might discourage the workers, thereby reversing the positive inspiration as well as undermining the leadership. The trends of the backsliding in the previous improvements might indicate the worker resentment.  That is why striking the correct balance between the stasis and the continuous improvement becomes difficult in any given lean environment. Any small business might be prone to reach such refinements since it has a less complex mosaic. Be well aware of how the incorporated changes keep affecting your invaluable staff for gauging how effective the further pushes are going to be.

Lean manufacturing whiteboards and Lean Manufacturing Visual Production Boards have a really extensive collection of the concepts as well as the tools. There are several tools that must be mentioned, however; here you will get to know only about a few. Surveying some the most significant of the Lean manufacturing whiteboards and Lean Manufacturing Visual Production, by comprehending both what they actually are and how they might help is quite a good way to start.



5S is a tool used to improve workplace efficiency by cleaning, streamlining, and reducing time waste in the workspace.

The chief tenets of the 5S are given below:

  • Sort (which is about eliminating all that is not required)
  • Set in Order (organizing the remaining items)
  • Shine (keeping the work area clean and inspecting it thoroughly)
  • Standardize (make standards for the above)
  • Sustain (maintain and apply the above-mentioned standards)

How does the 5S help?

This kind of simple but effective method helps in eliminating the waste which results from the poorly organized work areas (like the time loss by looking for any tool).  5S is an easily adopted solution to your whiteboards and metrics.  Utilizing this within your environment will not only increase your bottom line but will also install pride and a desirable worker culture.


It is a strategy where the employees work together unitedly and proactively to accomplish the regular and incremental improvements of the particular manufacturing process.

How does Kaizen help?

It combines the accumulated talents of several members of a company in order to create a great network for continually eliminating the wastes from the manufacturing process

The production tracking board itself

The industrial boards in order to measure the work efficiency and the metrics

  • They are usually very durable, magnetic whiteboards
    ·  Most all will stain, crack fade or shadow – replace regularly
    · Maintain an absolute new like appearance for 1-2 years
    · Lean manufacturing boards can easily be customized and personalized according to your particular production environment, required measurement metrics on the factory floor
  • The key is to determine what is important to your business and then run with it, just beware, large whiteboards are a very large time sink for personnel to develop, learn, adopt and integrate with the business.

Corrective Action Program

Corrective Action Programs were pioneered by nuclear utilities but adapted and used across industries worldwide.  Corrective Action Programs first and foremost strive to document issues and provide a system to track resolution and closure but provide additional benefits to a business.  Problems in a business operation are oftentimes not unique.  Problems sometimes spawn from systematic issues.  Trending can identify when many similar issues are occurring during a process, and start to highlight to the business that it may be time to review and modify a process to produce acceptable outcomes and reduce issues. It usually includes a thorough process for the evaluation of the safety importance of the various problems, setting the priorities in the correction of the problems, and then tracking them until they have absolutely been rectified.

Corrective action programs must document the information on the deficiencies. A table can be made by including a full description of all the major deficiencies; the action which must be taken; resources which are required for addressing the deficiency; as well as the justification required for the correction of the deficiency. The action on the deficiencies must be given to that person or department which will be best suited to address that particular issue. Due dates can also be assigned and the corrective database must be reviewed to track the progress.

All the program gaps or the deficiencies might not be equally significant. That is why prioritizing of the corrective actions is also necessary and helpful since funding and time is always limited. Prioritization might also identify the important deficiencies which must be reported to the management and also corrected as soon as possible. The several categories for the corrective action might include the ones given below:

  • The hazards of the health and safety
  • The regulatory compliance
  • Hazards to the property, the operations, the environment or even the entity (image or reputation)
  • The conformity to the national standards
  • Following the industry best practices.


The visual management display is usually critical to the lean enterprises. Be it the scoreboards, the production control charts or the team communication boards, the visual management displays always keep the vital information and knowledge flowing between the lean management and the employees, and also between the individuals and the departments. They usually open the communication and the information sharing it within a lean enterprise.

Some examples of the Lean Visual applications include:

Storyboard Goal-setting as well as the performance tracking

The employees need the visual displays which show whatever is expected out of them as well as how they are going to perform against such goals. The display boards might be critical to success since they show the trends in the key performance indicators, that too in real time.

Scheduling and the production control

Most of those “who,” “what,”, “when” questions which arise are usually best addressed using these display boards which communicate schedules, due dates, work orders, etc. The employees must have smooth access to visual management boards so that they may quickly determine what are the things that they should do next; it helps kill a lot of time waste by searching, waiting and asking for the verbal instructions as well as supervision.

Storyboard Idea sharing and the team communication

The Kaizen improvements usually achieve the greatest results when they are performed as some team-based endeavor; the communication boards serve a really instrumental role to get everyone involved in sharing the ideas, in identifying the root causes and also brainstorming the countermeasures.

The visual displays can also be beneficial for presenting the results and also recognizing the achievements of the kaizen event team. Tracking the boards and the visual management tools might be especially important for the multi-shift operations in which the groups hardly have the opportunity of meeting face-to-face.

Manufacturing the whiteboards also play a really vital part in helping the company to measure some metrics. The continuous improvement is usually made visual and all the employees in charge of all the whiteboards take the pride and ownership about the results. Below are given many different kinds of the custom printed whiteboards ranging from the plain black and white grids till the full-blown visual performance boards with the company logos.

Lean manufacturing custom printed whiteboards, the Audit boards, the Kaizen problem solving boards, the H&S, the KPI, the Root Cause Analysis whiteboards, the 5S, the CI, the Pick List boards, the training and Support boards, the Celebrating Success Boards, the Health and Safety Boards, the Quick Kaizen Whiteboards, the Workstation Info Boards, the Production Schedule Boards, the KPI Boards, the Shadow Boards, the 5C’s and more.

Lean Display Boards

The lean display boards are used for the visual management (the visual display as well as the visual control) for quite a wide range of the lean manufacturing environments. The display boards would earlier be fixed to the walls, but it is beneficial in the lean manufacturing backdrop to have the unsupported mobile display boards. It means that the information will be displayed as near to the point of use as possible, not just where some wall is. Our lean display boards might be made agile with the use of the castors or they might be fixed to the other equipment so that the information is available at the right place during the right time.

Here you get the lean visual display boards which are amazingly quick to for building, modifying, adding to or even dismantling in case they are needed no longer. The parts might then be used again in other projects.

At Bulwark Acquisition, the traditional lean manufacturing Visual Production Boards are simply considered an antique.  We achieve all of the above in an easy to use and intuitive digital interface at a fraction of the cost of traditional lean manufacturing boards.

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