3.06.2009

Book Talk: Resources for Understanding Visual Controls

Visual controls are an essential foundation of lean. Proper use of visual controls eliminates a lot of wasted time by making it easier for workers to find what they need. Today I thought I would discuss some books that focus on this principle.

This is prompted by an email from Paul Harbath of the Utah Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), who recommends Visual Workplace, Visual Thinking by Dr. Gwendolyn Galsworth. Paul, who is licensed to use Galsworth’s material, describes the book as using “the creation of a visual workplace to engage the shop floor people in the company’s continual improvement journey.” He says it has helped him achieve significant results in getting shop floor associates involved.

Along the same lines, we publish The Visual Factory: Building Participation Through Shared Information by Michael Greif. This book has been around for a long time, and that’s because it provides good information. It spells out how you can make the factory a place where workers and supervisors freely communicate so that every employee can take improvement action. And it discusses not only shop floor controls, but even meeting and communication areas. Like the Galsworth book, it features many color photographs.

Visual controls are directly related to 5S. We publish a lot of 5S books. I won’t mention them all here, but you might want to check out the classic 5 Pillars of the Visual Workplace by Hiroyuki Hirano, the easy-to-read 5S for Operators in our Shopfloor series, the handy 5S Pocket Guide, and 5S for the Office by Thomas Fabrizio and Don Tapping.

Finally, let me mention one of our more recent books: Understanding A3 Thinking: A Critical Component of Toyota's PDCA Management System by Durward Sobek and Art Smalley. I mention it because the A3 report – a single sheet of paper summarizing an improvement effort – is also a visual tool. But the key to using visual tools is understanding WHY they provide value. This book does an excellent job of explaining the thinking behind using an A3 report, and its role in a PDCA (plan-do-check-act) management system.

Do you have a question or comment about a book(s) that you would like addressed in Book Talk? Email me directly at Ralph.bernstein@taylorandfrancis.com.

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