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Visual Control

A visual control builds on 5S. It uses organization and standardization (usually in the form of Standard Work) to make an abnormal condition stand out.

In a Lean environment it does three things:

  1. A visual control shows the current condition quickly.
  2. A visual control shows what the standard is quickly.
  3. A visual control links to an action.

Simply put, a visual control helps Lean companies make a quick, pre-planned decision without guesswork.

A visual control is often used to highlight an abnormal condition.

For example, although rework is an indication of a problem in a process and should be eliminated, in the real world it often exists.

A common visual control has a set number of spaces for defective units. At a glance, anyone walking by can see how many units are in the area and how many spaces are free. The ‘control’ part of visual control means that there is a plan to take action when the last spot is full.

A few final thoughts on visual controls:

  • The visual control should highlight that a problem exists, even to someone who is unfamiliar with the process.
  • Use the 10 foot-3 second rule. Make a visual control so obvious that a trained person can tell what is going on by looking at the area for three seconds from ten feet.

Two well-known types of visual controls are andon lights and kanbans.

 

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