Kaizen is a continuous improvement strategy for updating manufacturing processes and working practices in industrial facilities. When implementing Kaizen, some of the top tools you have at your disposal are floor marking tape, signs, and other visual cues. Explore these opportunities to pair Kaizen strategies with visual cues to create a continuous improvement model that works for your facility.
Improve Organization With Clear Visual Cues
Kaizen’s continuous improvement method focuses on incremental change, and visual cues support these updates. Kaizen methods can be used to tailor organizational systems to your facility’s specific needs. As you create a more organized system using floor tape, you may choose to:
- Mark boundaries around red tag areas or finished product areas so it’s easy to see what belongs in the space
- Designate storage locations, forklift parking, or pallet placement with floor signs that reserve the space for the appropriate vehicle, item, or product
- Use colored vinyl tape to mark a workstation, then label tools that belong in the area with the same color to ensure tools remain in the appropriate areas
Another benefit of visual cues is that it’s easier to spot the abnormalities when the norm is clearly marked. A place marker can bring attention to a missing bin, toolbox, or forklift so employees can tell at a glance if the item is in use elsewhere, rather than searching for it unnecessarily. This method works best when the expectation is set that all items are returned to their assigned location when not in use.
Use Kaizen and Visual Cues to Support Training
Employee training should be regular, not sporadic. Keep training top of mind, whether updating procedures, bringing on new hires, or when determining what current staff may need for best performance. This may mean adding visual cues in addition to training to support workflows. Training methods and procedures vary by facility—your issues may not be solved using the same methods as another industrial location—but a Kaizen strategy can improve training overall when you follow a process specific to your needs.
After you’ve identified necessary improvements, consider how training and visuals may be related. For example, if you wish to reduce bottlenecks in the production line, consider these options for using training and visual cues together:
- Add clear markings on the floor or in workstations to communicate each step of the process, which complements initial training and makes the process more intuitive.
- Color-code tools to correspond with specific procedures or areas on the production line so employees can find the right tool at a glance, rather than searching for the appropriate option.
- Redesignate parts a lengthy process and pair training with visual reminders of the new procedure—which can help reduce the cycle time, increase capacity, and prevent wasted resources.
- Display the progress of a task—for example, mark with yellow labels to indicate that a procedure is in progress and green labels for completed processes—so employees know where the process stands at a glance, no need to wait around to ask.
Adjust Workflows or Traffic Patterns With Kaizen
Are audits bringing attention to worksite hazards? Have self-checks or outside inspections revealed errors in production methods, or are there regularly missed steps? Improve workflows with visual communication tools.
Floor marking tape is an easy-to-apply solution to label workflows and provide safety reminders for employees. Our floor marking tape is designed for longevity and flexibility: It remains in place through regular traffic—whether from pedestrians or machinery—but can be removed easily if floor markings or processes change.
If you note congested areas, improve traffic flow with floor markings that support Kaizen efforts. While the ideal solution depends entirely on your location, these solutions may be good starting points:
- Separating forklift and foot traffic with physical barriers and separate lanes
- Designating one-way traveled lanes with clear signage and floor markings
- Adjusting traffic patterns to send unnecessary foot traffic through another area
- Applying floor marking tape for directional cues to improve visitor navigation
- Clearly marking emergency exits and egress to ensure they’re visible, even in congested areas
Use a Kaizen Event
A Kaizen Event targets a single process, training need, or physical update in a short, pre-scheduled amount of time—usually fewer than five days. A Kaizen Event could be a workshop or informational session or include implementing a new, solutions-based method. Employees work together to implement solutions to support the facility’s goal of continuous improvement—and many facilities host multiple Kaizen Events per year.
During a Kaizen Event meant to improve visual communication, floor marking equipment is indispensable. Floor marking carts improve organization while applying taped lines or signs by keeping all of your tools within reach. The cart also speeds application time, cutting the time necessary to mark warehouses or production floors considerably. Kaizen Events may tackle communication-related projects such as:
- Updating or installing floor markings and visual cues in workspaces to improve safety
- Installing projectors to display virtual lines and signs to improve safety where tape won’t stick
- Adjusting a workflow and providing appropriate signage or floor tape cues
- Cleaning or providing in-depth maintenance on production equipment
- Workshopping ideas with production floor employees for process improvements
- In-depth training when necessary, for example after a failed inspection or after a sustained dip in productivity
- Create a collaborative atmosphere through peer-to-peer activities and guided seminars focused on improving teamwork and communication
Kaizen provides opportunities to improve organization, workflows, and communication within industrial facilities and manufacturing locations. A continuous improvement mindset and phased implementation help measure the value of the changes as you scale up to carry the momentum forward throughout the whole facility. Visit our Resource Center for more information on improving industrial facility safety.