When it comes to visual controls in the workplace the most common line of questioning is related to manual visuals versus computerized visuals. Many people prefer the look of a more sophisticated information technology solution over a simple hand written solution. There are a number of things to consider when deciding which visual method to use.
Manual visuals are current as of the last recording and reviewed by frequency of the pitch.
Computerized visuals are current as of the last data entry and last time the report was run.
Hand written visuals are usually close to the process whose performance they reflect. This also makes it difficult to disperse the information to other locations.
Computerized systems encourage managing the production process from a computer screen in an office somewhere removed from the actual production area. A computer aided solution is definitely advantageous for computational accuracy as well as ease of distributing information.
Manual visuals are usually near or at the Gemba and can be physically verified but humans do make mistakes.
Computerized visuals are usually a long way from the source, often require judgment and execution of data, which can make accuracy difficult to assess.
Manual methods are not always precise, notes sometimes vague, and reporting periods can occasionally be missed.
Computerized visuals are highly precise regardless of accuracy.
Questions prompted by manual visuals can be addressed at least initially where it is posted and can be easily modified or new visuals created.
Computerized solutions are powerful analytical tools, but usually only designed to address the questions programmed and not easily changed or customized.
Manual visuals require little to no expense to implement and maintain.
Computers and network equipment are expensive to purchase, require continuing maintenance costs, and technical expertise.
Manual visuals are easy to use, owned by production floor, and draws people to the information whom helped create it.
Computers can be intimidating; the data is removed from shop floor to be transformed into impersonal computer-generated report.
Visuals are a means connect people to their processes. They also reflect the adherence to the process and are the basis for comparing actual versus expected performance. Visual controls help transform the abstract concept of discipline in lean management into directly observable, concrete practices. It is important to choose the right visual format for each process. Due to the immediate, accessible, flexible, inexpensive, and responsive nature of manual visual controls they are my preferred method.
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