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Visual Factory is a lean concept where data and information is conveyed using visual signs, charts, boards etc. instead of written or verbal communication. This prevents the waste arising from resources spending time in reporting and reproducing data.


An application-oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Alpesh Gorasia, Pinkulal Karan, Ram Kumar Chaudhary, Raj Saxena and Tushar Maradwar.


Congratulations to all respondents.


Q 277. Visual Factory is a lean concept that is used to communicate information in an organization. What type of information should be communicated using visual factory? What are some of the common tools used in a visual factory?



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Visual Factory is a powerful concept from manufacturing with a strong business case for service operations as well (e.g., back office operations where work happens on computing machines/network, in hospitality, hospitals, restaurants, airports). The application areas for visual management across industry sectors are multiple. Let me take example from back office operations and illustrate the point on what information should be communicated and tools used.


What type of information should be communicated using visual factory?


It will vary from one set up to another in back office depending upon the problem areas we are trying to address or objective which we aim to achieve. However some of the generic dimensions to consider are as below


1. Controllable X's ( Input to the process) : Operations where there is inherently large variation in mix of inputs/quality of inputs/timeliness of input which needs to be governed rigorously. Example : Number of call center rep's available to take calls in any hour; submission of payment batch timely for payment processing, pre-check of documents for loan eligibility before sending for underwriting


2. Output monitoring ( Different characteristic of output) : Operations where there is possibility of remediating the situation and reducing the impact of adverse event/error present a strong case in back office to continuously monitor output. Example : Number of calls getting dropped in a contact center, high value payments revalidation for any fraudulent event


3. Do's/Don't ( Visual/safety aid's for operator's) : Continuous  reinforcement of Do's & Don't in process for operators in the process to reduce possibility of error or risk event. Example : List of entities/accounts which needs to be immediately notified if any transaction is observed in those entities which executing day to day process


4. Standard's / Goals : Ongoing communication around the standard's/goals/objectives of the operations to maintain service standards. Example : First time resolution over individual productivity to ensure service representative prioritize resolution of issue versus rushing through the process to close the case


5. Job aids : Day to day job aids for operators to refer while executing their process. Example : Verifications to be while approving a commercial mortgage loan application


6. Uncontrollable X's ( Demand ) : Volumes in a back office operations


What are some of the common tools used for visual factory in back office?

Principles leveraged : 5 S , Mistake Proofing (Detective control & Preventive control), Statistical Process Control



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Visual factory is a very powerful concept through which we can demonstrate the message which required to visualize everyone in the organization.

We can demonstrate information in visual boards like safety parameters trend, Maintenance schedule, Performance of product through Quality-cost & delivery, Shift leader details, Daily production report, SOP's & Work instructions, Production schedules etc.

Some of the common tools used for Visual factory are charts, graphs, signs, labels, shadow boards, info graphics, indicator lights, check sheets etc.

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Visual Factory is a lean concept that emphasizes that need to place critical information right where it is needed. It is a part of lean manufacturing, TQM, TPM by Toyota production system initiatives.


This initiative was introduced by Gwendolyn Galsworth in her 1997 book Visual Systems. It is a very effective initiative to improve plant performance and people management. Visual management is the ‘go-getter’ of Lean, the vital ingredient that brings all the effort and expenditure of initiating a Lean programme to a result.


The Benefits of Visual Factory is as follows -

- Improved roductivity & output

- Clear, simplified instructions in complex environments

- Safer workplace (given the clear, intentional visual communication)

- Higher profits (due to more efficient processes)

- Increase employee moral and safety

- Fewer errors and less guesswork throughout a work process


Visual Factory communicated about the workplace –


·  VSM – Status of materials and information displayed

·  Orders – Fulfilled (Green), balance on time (Yellow), Balance delayed (Red)

·  Material – Good, for rework, scrap identified and isolated

·  Machine – Running, stopped or under breakdown, its losses

·  People – Present skills & unavailable skills & precautions taken

·  Methods – SOPs / Work instructions / specifications to be used


Common tools used in a Visual Factory are –

1.    Signs

2.    Info graphics

3.    Icons

4.    Labels

5.    Floor marking aids

6.    Colour lights

7.    Cards

8.    Communication boards

9.    Posters

10. Banners

11. Activity Board

12. Quick changes

13. 5S

14. TPM

15. Standard work

16. Charts and

17. Andons

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Visual Factory


Visual Factory methodology is a concept of lean which means visualizing information on work place where it happening in reality. There is saying which elucidates Visual factory in short “You can control what you can see”.

Visual factory is a substantial communication tool. It allows one to know the results even without any word and disruption with work force in work place.

Visual factory foremost a momentous role in productivity improvement. The question arrives in mind that how Visual factory leads to productivity improvement and answer lies in a word of Visual. When you see results every hours in visual form it help to challenge work force to move ahead close to target. Also it helps to build a system of completion between different stakeholders from same work place which leads to good productivity level.

Visual factory permits individual to visualize the work status and give visibility what can be achieved.  


What type of information should be communicated using visual factory?


As explained above Visual factory is a substantial communication tool. Basically essential information to get from one place to a new place to be transmitted.

Information which you needs to communicate on work place requires a brainstorming between cross functional team members and decide what needs to be communicated. Basically you need to first set your goal by decided what you want to achieve.

Visual Factory is not limited to only information sharing like any data but it could be used as an indicator which visually explains the status of equipment’s.


Few examples to decision making of information using Visual Factory: - Do the brainstorming with cross function while keeping in mind following points.

-          Targets derived from Department Key performance indicators

-          Targets derived from individual performance indicators

-          Specify your goals and organization needs

-          Anywhere for rapid improvement

-          Workplace management

-          Workforce management

-          Objectives

-          Equipment efficiency & Status

-          Safety Measures

-          Process Measures

-          Training

-          Inventory


Few examples how to implement information sharing: - following techniques can be quickly adopted to communicate information’s.

-          Define hourly/daily targets and subsequential achievement

-          Monthly targets vs achievements

-          Individual line monitoring

-          Governance & Routine of individual or a team

-          Daily/Weekly meetings and their action plan

-          Defining/display layouts

-          Display your leaders information

-          Monthly/quarterly objective achievement status

-          Simple Visual indicators showing status of equipment’s

-          Make Visual Process audit results

-          Work instruction

-          Training Videos

-          Floor WIP status (Inventory status of specific batch size)


What are some of the common tools used in a visual factory?

There are many commonly used tools in a Visual Factory. Visual Factory uses an extensive array of Signs, Charts, labels, Infographics and many more communication tools.

1.       5S (Floor marking, define place of everything)

2.       Simply Put (Sign board & Tags)

3.       Workplace metrics (Define hourly, daily, monthly target display boards as you need)

4.       Andon System (Equipment status.)

5.       Kanban System (Material flow)

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Visual factory , this initiative was first introduced in a book “Visual System “ written by Gwendolyn Galsworth in 1997. It is basically appropriate display of charts , signs , labels and other visual tools which reduce overall complexity of instructions and it can be easily understood by the individual in the plant without reading manuals. Visual factory is one of conveyance mode to facilitate efficient and accurate information to user.


In Lean manufacturing ,time and resources spent on conveying data and information are considered as of waste.Visual factory should be used in information which required time and resources on conveying data.

Following type of information should be communicated using visual factory


  • Process metrics- it deliver information about current stage of the process e.g. Temperature, pressure
  • Warnings- it wars staff about safety threats in the area. e.g. danger sign on electric panel, Hazardous chemicals.
  • Instructions-It helps staff to remind how to complete a job and which sequence to follow.e.g. Do’s & Don'ts with picture on Machine.
  • General information-  Dashboards are common display mechanism which comes under this category. E.g Project update, work site maps.

Following are some of the common tools used in a visual factory

  • Kanban
  • Huddle boards
  • Andon
  • Process control charts
  • Gemba walks
  • Floor line marking and signage

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Everyone has provided excellent answers to this question and it was difficult to pick out the best answer. Therefore, all answers have been selected as the best answer. Congratulations to all!


Special mention for Ram Kumar Chaudhary as he has given an interesting perspective of visual factory in a service set up.

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