Chapter 3. Visualizing your work


This chapter covers

  • Using visualization for transparency and information sharing
  • Making policies explicit
  • Using information radiators
  • The kanban board
  • Mapping your workflow to the kanban board

The first thing that strikes you as you enter the Motomachi Toyota assembly plant is how Toyota uses visualizations and sound to track progress, display status, and communicate. The company has large signs everywhere explaining what different parts of the plant are for, and big Andon boards that show the status of production, including when and where assistance is needed. When you remove a tool from its place, a bright image of the tool is revealed so that everyone knows the tool is gone from its spot and remembers to put it back.

If a worker encounters a problem, he pulls a cord—the famous Andon cord or stop-the-line cord—and his foreman and coworkers are alerted by a tune playing, unique to that workstation, and by flashing lights on the Andon board that indicate which station is in trouble. At the same time, a yellow lamp lights up next to the station; and if the issue isn’t resolved until the vehicle on the assembly line passes a marker for the next station, the lamp turns red and the line stops.

3.1. Making policies explicit

3.2. The kanban board

3.3. Queues

3.4. Summary