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Whiteboards in the Workplace: Lean Manufacturing

Thu Sep 11 2014
Lean manufacturing has helped companies make major strides in productivity and efficiency by eliminating non-value added steps and streamlining business and production processes. Removing wasted time and effort in your operations can improve profits considerably.

Moving the heart of your decision making from the office to factory floor can reap several rewards. Sharing information with employees involved with day to day operations empowers them to make a difference.

The role of whiteboards in lean manufacturing: Using visual management rather than complex computerized systems or cumbersome paper methods is a more efficient and environmentally sound method for managing operations.  There is a growing emphasis among lean manufacturing experts to use visually rich materials which are proven to keep the brain more alert and active. Recent studies show that as high as 83% of human learning occurs visually.  Well designed visuals have a positive and sustainable impact on productivity, quality, equipment reliability & employee engagement.

Managers agree on the value of magnetic whiteboards in lean manufacturing. This customer mentions their value in the company’s lean initiative, particularly siting 5S support.

“We use our board as a dashboard for what we call "Total Company Reporting." Each of the 9 sections uses a magnetic ChartJacket to post another KPI: scrap reports, weekly production stats or 5s progress. It works best that this board isn't very complex. We can change the information as we progress and not be stuck with predefined headings.”Lean Manager - Tool & Die Manufacturer, Cleveland, OH

Specific Areas in a Manufacturing Environment Where Whiteboard Systems Can Help:
If you are manufacturer looking to find ways to measure and improve results while staying lean, consider these examples of magnetic whiteboards in a lean environment.

  • Production Scoreboards:  Production Scoreboards visually motivate in your workplace by keeping everyone consistently aware of your Key Performance Indicators. These unique scoreboards are effective for production trend tracking and performance reporting of your production metrics. Having specific and measurable goals that are created in collaboration with your team is a proven way to motivate and improve overall productivity in the factory.

  • Kanban: Kanban boards have simplified and streamlined the critical production communications needs in hundreds of facilities nationwide. With Kanban boards (a key component of lean manufacturing) you able to quickly manage production and assembly tasks. They are also used to keep track of inventory, stage jobs, and more.  Kanban boards are gaining ground because they make it possible for people to focus on the right tasks. The board makes it easier to prioritize, which is crucial for efficiency, engagement and team spirit.

  • Safety: Safety boards are a hugely important motivational tool. Magnetic safety signs can cut accident rates by keeping employees engaged and make safety awareness a priority. Utilize safety board’s in weekly or monthly safety meetings, safety training or just continually update a safety cross for continuous manager-to-employee communications.  According to safety advisor Mark Steinhofer, companies who implement effective safety and health programs can expect to see their injury and illness rates reduced by 20 percent or more.

    • Quality: When you visually display quality goals, standards, issues, improvement and performance data, work associates, teams, and departments become engaged and stay focused on quality ownership.  Having visual systems specific to quality improvement gives your team a "voice" and sense of empowerment that they are contributing to the overall quality of your product. These board systems were created from suggestions by our 5S and lean manufacturing customers and are the products they tell us have been most successful.

    • Training: See, schedule, manage, communicate and control training courses, trainee assignments, progress and time commitments with these completely flexible color-coded magnetic whiteboard systems. Either formal classroom training, OJT, seminar style at home or away, these magnetic board systems give everyone involved a concise picture of your training program and keeps everyone on the same page at all times.

    • Inventory/Materials: Whiteboard Inventory Systems help to visually plan, schedule, stage and control inventory, critical materials and supply stream activities. These magnetic whiteboard kits use color coded magnets and T-cards to give you and your team an overview of your material levels, location and status. They show critical reordering levels and identify quick changes in material demands.

    • Maintenance: These flexible maintenance board systems keep color-coded maintenance scheduled, planned and response tasks in view, and in mind. When you post the information on your wall to share with your team 24-7 everyone gets involved in contributing to the success of your maintenance operation.

    • Equipment Management: These magnetic whiteboards give you and your team visibility of all your equipment. Using the color coded whiteboard equipment magnets makes updating the status or location quick and easy. These systems give everyone an instant visual summary of all of your equipment and equipment status.

    • Continuous Improvement: Continuous improvement whiteboard systems are used to track, post, track and help process continuous improvement and corrective action ideas. They are proven to engage the interest and energy of employees to improve all facets of continuous improvement.

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