3 Ways The Visuals In Your Prefab Shop Add To Efficiency
Written By Steve King

The signs of a well-run pre-fab shop are literally visual. From well-marked locations of emergency equipment to clear notifications on the current projects in the works, print and electronic signage and labels make it clear that the shop is organized, clean and efficient. Simply by surveying a shop floor, a visitor can assess how efficiently and professionally a shop is run.

Shops tend to be loud places, with various machines operating at any given time. That makes the proper usage of visual communications in the shop all the more important to make sure your shop runs safely and efficiently. Using visual cues–materials labeling, safety alerts, job specs, production schedules–cuts down on mistakes from workers mishearing instructions or measurements. Here are three things every shop can use visual communications for improved safety and performance. (And while we describe these methods in “analog” form, they are just as easily adapted to digital: programs, tablets, screens and RFID tags can provide the same information as a printed tag or sign.)

  • Safety: There are myriad workplace regulations that require you to put up signage, some required by government agencies, some by insurance companies and still others by pure common sense. Lights and signage should direct anyone in the facility–a first-time visitor to a long-time employee–where exits are and where first aid or fire suppression equipment live. Lines on the floor tell people where they can and cannot walk. Signs instruct people where safety goggles or hardhats are required. Visual reminders on the shop floor and on the entries to the shop advise people on how to safely enter the workspace.

  • Materials management: Most shops have multiple projects going on at the same time, so having visual reminders of what materials are going to be used for each project is important. Labeling materials in the shop allows workers to quickly double-check to make sure they’re collecting the proper items to complete the job. These labels should be matched to a set of plans, with some shops using a color-coded system on designs and materials to track the projects as they work their way through the shop. Materials management software, like eVolve Materials, can provide a central manifest of materials in the shop for specific jobs, and it should be referred to and updated frequently to ensure the status of deliveries, jobs and deliverables. Labels on hand tools in the shop can tell the user where the item needs to be stored, aiding in fast clean up at the end of the day, and they can help track the wear-and-tear on a tool or machine.

  • Project management: As jobs work their ways through your shop, workers will need access to information on what’s on the schedule. As they finish one job, they need to know what project is next and where those materials are. This can be done by a consolidated job board–either a physical board on the shop floor that’s updated frequently or an electronic version available via tablets or computers. Information should be clear and concise. If the source can’t contain all the information, it should quickly direct the reader to where the information is available. It should list only the job being worked on, but also the workload that’s scheduled for future days so that everyone in the shop is on the same page.

Of course, these aren’t the only types of visual communication in the shop. Managers can use various items–like charts or banners or even a simple dry erase board–to keep team members apprised of accomplishments and news. One of the most ubiquitous signs on job sites–”XXX number of days without an accident- is there not just to congratulate people on the site’s safety record; it’s also there to remind people to do their jobs safely. Such communication lets everyone know what’s important on the shop floor and the job site.

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