The Future of Visual Management in 2018 & Beyond: What You Need To Know

Thu Dec 07 2017
By: Mike P

With the New Year just around the corner, many manufacturers have begun discussing the future of their supply chain management efforts. This often starts with a conversation that leads to questions like “How can we improve production in the year ahead?” or “how are we classifying a good day in the New Year?” A point of interest that frequently gets mentioned in response to these questions is the Internet of Things (IoT) and the impact it can have on a factory’s performance. With the adoption of IoT continuing to spread across the manufacturing industry, automation is rapidly becoming a standard as a growing number of manufacturers are ditching the concept of a manual labor factory in favor of digital-first initiatives. In 2017 alone, 1.6 billion industry-specific IoT devices were deployed across the globe, with that number expected to double by 2020. It’s foolish to deny the significance of the IoT in modern manufacturing, but that’s not to say manufacturing practices and methodologies that have existed long before the Internet—like visual management for example—will be left behind in the past. In fact, we recently took an in-depth dive into visual management’s future, analyzing industry reports, uncovering some expert opinions, and coming to some conclusions based upon our own expertise and knowledge with visual management tools. So what exactly does the future have in store for visual management? Here are just a few of the possibilities.

The Importance of Visual Management Will Continue to Grow
According to a recent industry-wide survey conduced by Technavo, analysts forecast that the global industrial visual management systems market will grow at a CAGR of 7.73% during the next four years. A simple explanation for this growth could be the increased presence of automation. As IoT continues to spread throughout factories, fewer operators will be required for supply-chain assembly. These operators will likely transition into a quality role that is primarily concerned with highlighting abnormalities and inefficiencies in the assembly process. We have to imagine that the tools used for visual management will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but one thing that will always remain consistent is how these visuals are being used. At its core, visual management is used to highlight abnormalities in real-time; its purpose never changes. Regardless of how efficient and technologically advanced a manufacturing facility may be, there will always be mishaps, and more importantly, corrective action that can be taken to prevent a similar mistake from happening again.

Management Will Always Trump Visuals
Shiny new toys are often part of the package when you welcome new technology into the workplace, and honestly, they can sometimes become a distraction. Being able to navigate through this excitement and evaluate a visual management tool based solely on its practicality is a challenge that will continue to increase in difficulty in the future. If your visual management program is not rooted in a solid foundation—with problem-solving and corrective action staying in focus—failure is inevitable. There’s a distinct difference between what differentiates visuals from visual management: visuals show what’s happening, whereas visual management highlights when things shift from normal to abnormal. This difference needs to be at the forefront of every discussion you have regarding visual management in your factory. Given that it’s impossible to predict exactly what technology we’ll be using 20-50 years down the line, the only way manufacturers can prepare for visual management of the future is to understand its foundation. Without any indication that something has gone wrong, how can you possibly expect action to be taken and improvements to be made?

Your Visual Management Strategy Must Adapt and Grow With Your Organization
As your organization grows, you’ll need to make changes internally to maintain efficiency and quality in operations. Your visual management strategy should grow and adapt alongside these organizational changes. We recommend periodically re-evaluating your visual management strategy: take a look at what’s working, what’s being missed, and what can be improved on. By ignoring or turning a blind eye to your pre-existing strategy, your employees may begin to question the value and purpose of visuals entirely. After all, if your visuals are no longer serving the needs of your organization, what’s even the purpose of using them?


Categories:
Factory and Production
 
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