Visual Control Boards

Visual Control Boards

Visual Control BoardsIf you are looking for a great way to improve the organization of your facility, you will want to look into using visual control boards. These boards can provide any facility with a single location where everyone goes to gather key pieces of information. No matter what type of thing your facility is looking to organize or track, these boards are the ideal option.

Uses for Visual Control Boards

When people see a visual control board they often think that they are a great idea, but aren’t really sure what they would use them for in their specific facility. When you really spend a moment thinking about it, however, you’ll quickly see just how many ways you can put them to use. Look at the following general ways that you can put a visual control board to use:

  • Scheduling – Having a list of all the employees who are working on a particular shift, and then which jobs they will be performing is a great way to keep everything organized. Employees can come in each day, look at the board, and get right to work.
  • Inventory Tracking – As items come into your facility, they can be placed on the board. As they move through the facility, their location can be tracked and updated, before finally being removed when the item leaves for good.
  • Tool Tracking – Many facilities have a problem with tools or other items that get used, and then never returned. Having a visual control board with a list of all the tools will allow you to identify who used each item last, and where it was being used.
  • Maintenance Scheduling – Having a list of key pieces of machinery, along with what types of maintenance it will need can help avoid mechanical problems. The people responsible for the work will update the board as the jobs are done, and they will immediately know what they need to do next.

Of course, your facility will be able to come up with a list of great uses for visual control boards that are customized to meet your specific needs. Just look around the facility, and anything that isn’t running as smoothly or efficiently as it should be will likely be a good candidate for these types of boards.

Implementing Lean Standards

Another great reason why a growing number of facilities are using visual control boards is because they are working on implementing lean standards. Lean manufacturing techniques have been helping companies to cut waste and improve the bottom line for many years. One of the key components of these techniques is knowing how to stay organized, which is exactly what a visual control board will do.

When properly used, you can take advantage of these boards to help cut out wasted time and effort in things like scheduling, tracking and sharing information. Not only will these things take less time, but they will actually be done better with these boards than they would have been done without them.

So, if you’re looking for a waste elimination project for a lean initiative, this is an excellent option to choose. It is quite easy to implement, and can be put in place without spending much money at all. This will make it extremely easy to get approved by the management teams.

Labeling the Boards

One of the challenges that some facilities face when using these boards is figuring out exactly how to label the boards in an efficient and easy to read way. While you can certainly use dry-erase marketers, that can get time consuming and if the person doing the labeling doesn’t have good hand writing, it can be difficult to read.

Fortunately, there is another option. You can purchase vinyl chart tape, which is made of high quality vinyl that will stick right to the board. It can easily be removed and placed in another spot, so you can make adjustments throughout the day as they are needed. There are quite a few different options to consider when using vinyl chart tape to help organize your visual control board:

  • Color Coding – Many facilities will purchase this type of tape in multiple different colors, and have each color assigned to one person or product. This is an extremely easy to use option that will get you set up and organized immediately.
  • Writing on the Tape – This vinyl tape can be written on with permanent marker. You can choose a white or yellow tape, and write names or products on each one. You can then put them on the board as they are needed. If someone is out of the facility for vacation, you can just set their piece of vinyl chart tape off to the side for the day.
  • Combining with Writing – Many facilities will choose to use a dry-erase marker to label some parts of the visual control board, and then the vinyl chart tape for other areas. This combination can make both parts stand out more, which makes it quite easy to see.

You can come up with your own method of using this tape on your boards. The important thing is that you find a system that works well, and that everyone in the facility can see and understand without a problem. Keep in mind that you want to make sure the board is clear and easy to read at a glance. If people have to spend several minutes trying to decipher what the chart is saying, you will want to rethink your approach.

Choosing your Vinyl Chart Tape

Colored Vinyl Chart Tape
Colored Vinyl Chart Tape

There are many different options when it comes to choosing the type of vinyl chart tape that you need. Of course, one of the biggest options is the color, or colors, that you will need. In many cases, the color of the tape is one of the most important options.

This vinyl tape can come in almost any color you can think of, and you can even get it with stripes of two colors. This is a great way to draw attention to a specific area of the chart. If, for example, you are using your visual control board to identify potential hazards or dangerous jobs that need to be done for the day, you can use a black and yellow striped tape.

Anything that you can do to help communicate danger is, of course, very helpful. Even if you’re not using it as a safety improvement option, you can still use the different colors as a great way to improve organization on your board.

Another option that you will need to think about is the size of the tape. For most visual control boards, having tape that is ½’’ wide is ideal. This allows you to have enough room to write on the tape and provide the information you need, without it taking up too much space. Of course, since this tape comes in roles, you can make each label as long as it needs to be to convey the information properly.

Rapid Implementation

Another great benefit of using visual control boards is that you can have them put in place extremely quickly. You can order the boards and vinyl labels, and have them in your facility in less than a week. From there, you just need to take a little bit of time to plan out how you will be using the system, and get everything set up.

From the moment you decide to use visual control boards until they are up and running will often take under a week, which is a remarkable turnaround time, especially when you consider just how much of an impact the system can provide.

While you’re waiting for your board and vinyl tape to arrive, you can plan out and provide your employees with training too, so you can really hit the ground running.


As with any new way of doing things, you will need to provide everyone in the facility with the necessary training in order to ensure the visual control board works up to its potential. This training should ideally be provided to large groups of people together, since it is not an overly difficult concept. Training in groups will also allow common questions to be answered just once per group.

In addition to just telling everyone how the control boards will be used, a good training program will also help to show everyone the benefits of using this new system. It can help to get people to support the new system, which will make it more effective right from the start.

Always keep in mind that many people will be resistant to the change, just because some people don’t like it when things change. In order to overcome this, make sure your training program welcomes questions, and has good answers for them. Keep in mind that the benefits of a visual control board aren’t just for the management of the company, but will make the jobs of everyone in the facility much easier.

The following are some key points that many employees may appreciate:

  • Self-Guided – Employees won’t have to check in with supervisors to see what they are doing each day.
  • Less Down Time – It can be frustrating to employees who have to stand around waiting for someone to provide the work that needs to be done for the day. With visual control boards, everyone can just check in at one place and know exactly what needs to be done.
  • Avoiding Miscommunications – Employees often get blamed when a supervisor tells them to do the wrong thing. With these visual boards, it is easy to show exactly what the supervisors put down for the days’ work, so there won’t be any miscommunications.

As with most things, your facility will quickly find that there are many other benefits that you will enjoy. Even if there are some minor problems at first, they will be easy to work through and in the long run this type of system will benefit everyone in the company.

Try it today

No matter what type of facility you run, you will quickly find that this is an excellent way to improve the efficiency and organization of your company. It can help you to quickly overcome a wide range of problems, and get everyone working on the same page. With that in mind, why not implement this great technique in your facility today?

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