Use visual control so no problems are hidden
Toyota Motor Corporation, 1999-2005
At Toyota, visual controls and visual workplaces make it possible to see anomalies at a glance.
“Visual control is any communication device used in the work environment that tells us at a glance how the work should be done and whether it deviates from the standard. It helps employees, who want to do their job well, see immediately if they are on the right track.”
It can show where parts go to, how many of them need to go there, what the standard procedure is, the status of the work in progress and many other types of information critical to the flow of work activities. In a broader sense, visual control refers to the lean design of just-in-time information of all kinds to ensure fast and proper execution of operations and processes.
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Visual control goes beyond capturing deviations from the target or goal in charts and graphs and then displaying them publicly. Visual controls at Toyota are integrated into the value-added flow.
The Toyota Way recognizes that visual management complements humans because we are oriented visually, audibly, and tactilely. And the best visual indicators are those right at the workplace, where they can jump out at you and clearly indicate the standard by sight, sound and touch and any deviation from that standard. A well-developed visual control system increases productivity, reduces defects and errors, helps meet deadlines, facilitates communication, improves safety, and cuts costs. All this is achieved by giving workers more control over their environment.