Why make performance visible?
Highlighting performance levels can be a powerful approach to improving performance levels in manufacturing and operations. Rather than burying performance levels in reports only seen by management, some firms actively display performance throughout the facility – making it clear to management and employees alike the levels of performance on key parts of operations.
Making performance highly visible can help highlight areas that need improvement. If the metrics are out of sight, they are quickly forgotten. Making them prominent throughout the production line can highlight areas that need to be improved. It is hard to overlook a problem when it is prominently displayed on the production line.
Displaying the information prominently can also help attract necessary management attention to issues. This can be the big difference between management becoming aware of a production problem a minute or two after it happened, and only being alerted to a key issue several days later in a production meeting. Problems are made quickly apparent, helping ensure that they are quickly corrected.
Different forms of performance to make visible
Current, instantaneous performance
One type of performance to make visible in the organization is the current, instantaneous performance of a machine or line. This can be useful at identifying current issues – if there is a problem with the production line, and this issue is made very visible, then it can help ensure the necessary attention is given to help correct the issue.
Historical performance and trends
Beyond the current level of performance, displaying the historical levels of performance can also be useful to illustrate broader changes. A gradual deterioration of performance can sometimes go unnoticed – a few percentages less each month may not be noticeable. By making the trends obvious – allowing everyone to see a gradual deterioration, corrective action can be made to address the causes.
Approaches for making performance visible
There are several different alternatives to how to make performance visible.
- Paper printouts: Possibly the simplest approach, particularly for historical performance levels. No dedicated equipment is needed, just a printout of Exxel document tracking performance.
- Panels / TV: For more instantaneous indicators of performance, electronic panels can illustrate the current performance of machines. Even if the interface is relatively basic (a red screen for a machine down for example), performance issues can quickly be visibly seen.
- Automated emails: Automated emails are another way of highlighting performance issues, drawing attention to areas that need to be focused on. This approach requires more integration with software, once up and running can help highlight key performance metrics beyond a production environment.
- Alarms: Another approach common in manufacturing lines for highlighting current production issues is alarms that sound to draw attention to a line being down. A periodic alarm, alerting everyone in the facility to a machine not working can quickly ensure that attention is directed to solving the issue.