Page 4: Visible management/visual factory
A system of ‘visible management’ has been introduced at Castle Bromwich to enable everyone involved in the process to understand how individual parts of the plant are performing so they can contribute to meeting performance requirements. An important part of this initiative is the use of Control Boards (i.e. visual screen) which everyone involved in the production process can read at a glance and check on the production performance of their production line. The Control Board reveals the daily production target for each production line and the performance of the line against this target.
At any one time anyone on the production line can see where they are in relation to target or where bottlenecks are occurring so that more help can be put into problem areas. Jaguar has adopted a Japanese word ‘gemba’ — which means to go see - to develop a new approach to production management and supervision. Managers are encouraged to gemba, i.e. to ‘go see’ - to understand, grasp, and solve problems when they occur rather than sit in remote offices.
The Control Board is a quick and visual tool for monitoring where problems occur on the production line. On the Jaguar production line, cars flow along a line with teams processing the work on the car in an ordered sequence. It is essential that each line worker completes their specialist tasks to the highest quality before the car moves to the next position on the line. If a worker is having a problem they pull a cord which alerts their team leader who will provide assistance. If the team leader, who is more knowledgeable and multi-skilled than other production line workers, is able to quickly solve the problem he pulls the cord a second time and the line continues to flow forward.
However, if the problem cannot be immediately solved the whole line will halt and then wait while the problem is solved. It is estimated that typically there will be 130 - 150 pulls of the cord per shift. The running total is recorded on Control boards indicating the performance of each line. This makes it possible for production managers and supervisors to identify problems more easily.
Another aspect of visual management is the use of open Information Centres in the work areas of the factory. These Information Centres are based on a ‘three minute management approach’. Information from the Centre can quickly aid employees - within three minutes - to understand work related visions and goals, issues and problems affecting particular sections of the work area.
The Information Centre is about communicating in a simple and direct way - using clear and graphic charts to highlight issues, events and progress. The charts and work plans which are pinned up in the Information Centre are signed by all of the managers, supervisors and team leaders involved in drawing them up to show a shared sense of responsibility and of understanding of work related issues.